A second meeting of Offaly’s Community Response Forum took place remotely on Friday April 3rd hosted by Offaly County Council.
A broad range of groups and agencies took part in the meeting to share their experiences of providing support and social contact to anyone who needs it amid the current crisis. Councillor Peter Ormond, Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, acknowledged the volunteers from a range of groups continuing to coordinate and deliver services in every community and the co-operation that was evident between groups which was so heartening to see.
Organisations such as Alone, the HSE and the Gardai recounted that many people are getting the support they need in terms of food, fuel and medicine deliveries through the massive ongoing voluntary effort across Offaly but everyone is really missing social contact and they really appreciate a phone call back every few days to have a chat and check in. Anyone in Offaly who needs help is asked to phone the Freephone number on 0800-818181 8am to 8pm seven days a week. It was agreed that it was important to acknowledge that this is a very hard time for everyone, people of all ages and backgrounds. In every community people have lost their jobs, they miss interacting with their family and friends and colleagues and everyone is worried about the future.
Those who want to help were encouraged to register as a volunteer via the Kildare Volunteer Centre which covers Offaly. Volunteers can then be put in touch with groups who needs their particular skills at this time. Offaly Traveller Movement told the meeting that there is now a special helpline for the Traveller Community and also for the Roma Community. Family Resource Centres in Clara and Tullamore are working with Tusla and the GAA on supports in their local areas. Offaly Local Development Company is providing backup for community services such as Meals on Wheels through its TÚS programme and have also contacted Active Age groups across the county. Community policing services in Birr and Tullamore continue to actively engage with people who need support.
The meeting dealt with many practical issues being encountered and agreed to meet again next week for a further update.