Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy wishes to remind people of the Community Response Forum phone number specifically to provide support to vulnerable citizens during the COVID-19 restrictions. The telephone number is 1800 222 226. Over its first week the forum received over 300 calls. The freephone helpline operates seven days a week from 8am until 8pm.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy noted: “The majority of calls to the helpline have related to the collection and delivery of groceries, prescriptions, fuel and other essential household items, and the delivery of meals. Cork City Council staff, the HSE, An Garda Siochána and community organisations such as Meals on Wheels are amongst the partner groups who are responding to these requests for support”.
Requests for support due to an increasing sense of social isolation have also figured in phonecalls received – with a number of people experiencing loneliness as they stay at home. Those who have contacted the phone number have also been put in contact with Friendly Call Cork who provide a listening ear and a friendly voice on the phone to anyone experiencing loneliness. Friendly Call Cork is set up to tackle loneliness among older people, those with physical and mental disabilities and those who are socially isolated. It has expanded its services to deal with Covid-19 and the Cork City Partnership team have brought on more volunteers to meet the increased demand.
Cork City Community Response Forum Co-Ordinator, Denis Barrett said: “Cork City has been broken into 16 local area teams with a Cork City Council community worker and HSE community worker in each area who will work with ‘local champions’ – the existing voluntary organisations and groups who know their locality and can help match need with service delivery”.
Cllr McCarthy continued; “Corkonians have also contacted the helpline wondering how they could register to volunteer their service in this crisis. Would-be volunteers are asked to contact Volunteer Cork on 021 4251572, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or on firstname.lastname@example.org. They maintain a database of volunteers and are coordinating the volunteer effort in the city. Many thanks to everyone involved”.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Sheehan said: “We are delighted to see that the people of Cork are using this helpline and we would encourage people, who maybe have never asked for help before, to not be afraid to pick up the phone. These are unprecedented times for us all – but don’t forget we are all in this together and we will likely come out the other side with a deeper appreciation of the important things in life – and that includes living in a city which is rich in community supports and community spirit”.