Before the first positive Covid-19 diagnosis in Ireland, Kildare GAA and the Health Service Executive established a pilot online volunteer forum to support the delivery of HSE services across their sites in Kildare. This forum was promoted through the GAA club network in the county and through the GAA’s online presence at both county and community level. This early initiative, in response to the crisis, resulted in over 350 GAA members volunteering their services to the HSE in Kildare.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has since become one of the greatest challenges for the state since the 2007 economic crash. The threats caused to public health and to community health and wellbeing are unparalleled and unprecedented in the history of the state. New concepts such as ‘social isolation’, ‘cocooning’ and ‘lockdown’ have become an accepted part of everyday life and have left many people in a helpless position, particularly the most vulnerable in our communities such as the elderly and infirm and those who are not connected within their particular communities. These issues and challenges were reinforced by the Taoiseach, Dr. Leo Varadkar during his national address on Friday evening, the 27th March last.
As part of the national response to the issues caused by isolation, the Irish Local Government Sector have been asked to establish Community Response Frameworks in each county and to take the lead in coordinating all local organisations providing assistance across a range of issues such as collection and delivery of food and essential household items and meals on wheels. In a time when community has never been more important, the Chief Executive of Kildare County Council, Mr Peter Carey, who had already been working closely with the HSE to commence coordination of local efforts, immediately identified an opportunity to broaden the HSE / Kildare GAA volunteer online registration platform to include Kildare County Council’s community response role. This one single collaborative action, on behalf of Kildare County Council, the HSE and the GAA, gave the Community Response Framework access to a list of over 350 volunteers that could be filtered against skillset and location. Similarly, a mapping exercise taking in the other organisations across the local statutory and voluntary sector, such as Red Cross and St Vincent de Paul, An Garda Siochána and Kildare South Dublin Local Link was quickly completed by the Local Community Development Committee and the Public Participation Network.
These early interventions, on behalf of the most vulnerable people in our communities across the county of Kildare, have allowed Kildare County Council’s Community Response Framework to operate in the most efficient manner possible. There are over 30 local organisations taking part in the forum representing the statutory, voluntary, community, business and sporting sectors; this a truly collaborative response across our county. Calls to our dedicated helpline have been steady and all requests have been dealt with quickly and professionally. The GAA and other community groups in our county have risen to the challenge and really played their part in supporting Kildare County Council and the Health Service Executive.
Never has the phrase “Ní neart go cur le cheile (there is no strength without unity)” been more relevant.
Contact: Susan Bookle at: firstname.lastname@example.org