Municipal District: 19 June 2020

Question: Given the tragic loss and suffering experienced in our municipal district as a result of the pandemic – and the critical community support work and networks that emerged to provide essential help during the crisis, can the Community department comment on learnings for the Council with regard to helping sustain and strengthen community protection and resilience into the future, in particular with regard to our vulnerable members? 

Response from Council

Many vulnerable members of our community experienced severe difficulties when required to cocoon during the Covid crisis. As a result, the Community Call, in association with the Community Response Forum, was established to assist many people in gaining access to services whilst cocooning. 

Most of the difficulties experienced stemmed from the fact that there was a loss of existing services to people who were accustomed to same and therefore needed help from the call. The call deals with issues including providing transport to medical appointments, arranging to have shopping collected and delivered, providing advice to callers to assist in issues as a result of being isolated, forwarding issues to the Gardai and arranging library housebound services. Kildare County Council 

The call also provides a platform for people to volunteer to provide assistance and these can be directed to the volunteer network. The contacts forged between Kildare County Council and all the community services has been invaluable and will assist Kildare Co Council in responding to any similar type of emergency should it be required. 

It should be noted that external services are steadily coming back on stream and the number of callers to the helpline have decreased accordingly. The Helpline continues to operate from Monday to Saturday from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. each day. 

Follow up in July 2020

In July, with the rise in cases during the second wave of Covid, I raised a motion asking for the Council to consult with the many community groups that responded to Ireland’s Community Call to find out what worked well, what lessons could be learned and other feedback to help strengthen and connect the network for future needs. You can view this motion here.