20 May 2020
By Bryan Smyth
The Blarney and Tower area has always had a vibrant community and neighbourly spirit, but the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic has seen it shine brighter than ever. Local community and voluntary groups, working alongside the Cork City Community Response Forum, have been working night and day to help those in the locality who need it most. Here’s just a glimpse of what they have been doing:
Since they delivered their first meal on St. Patrick’s Day, the Blarney/Tower CRF team went from delivering 10 meals per day to 50 meals per day as the crisis deepened.
At Easter they delivered Easter eggs and treats to over 160 people who were cocooning, which gave them the opportunity to check in and see if they could be of assistance in other ways, without being too intrusive.
Practical jobs that Blarney/Tower CRF team members undertook included erecting chicken wire under one person’s eaves to stop swallows nesting, cleaning gutters, fixing outside lights and they painted one man’s steps to make them safer for him as he found himself housebound.
Hand sanitisers, DVDs and DVD players were donated and delivered to a residential care unit for young adults with intellectual disabilities
One lady in isolation was delighted to have Blarney/Tower CRF team members come to her assistance when she couldn’t get out to walk her much loved dogs. The CRF team also offered litter pickers to local families who wanted to get out for their 2km exercise and still contribute to keeping their lovely area clean and tidy with Blarney Tidy Towns.
Through Muskerry News, the CRF team put out regular encouraging notes and suggestions to help, reaching more than 6,000 locals and they found the system of benefit in reaching those in need. They also ran an isolation art competition in conjunction with Muskerry News for young people up to 18 years of age, asking them to send in a poem, a story, painting or drawing that reflected how their lives have changed during the pandemic.
Two members of the Blarney/Tower CRF found themselves confined to their homes but still managed to help the team effort – Pat, who was cocooning, and Kate, who unfortunately contracted COVID-19 but worked away, supporting the CRF from her computer, and looking forward to getting back out working on the ground again after her recovery.
Kate Durrant from Blarney/Tower CRF said of the team’s work, “Really it’s just neighbours looking after neighbours, so it’s easy to fix these problems, we have a small community and help is only ever a phone call away.”
Although COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to ease from next week, the Community Response Forum is still to available to support anyone who needs help on 1800-222-226 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.