“The character of any country is defined by how we care for the most vulnerable in our communities”
Mayo County Council’s Community Engagement Team began to coordinate the overall Mayo response to the Coronavirus crisis from the second week in March. The Community Engagement Team forms part of the Covid-19 Response team of Mayo County Council and reports to the Chief Executive, Peter Hynes.
Our role is to ensure that the response is directed to those who need it most, and that the overall work is in line with the Government Covid-19 Action Plan.
A number of key steps were undertaken at the initial stage, before the national process emerged and this has proven a useful foundation over the past week.
We began to unify the Mayo efforts into one overall coordinated approach.
We gathered information on the groups through recognised community networks such as the Public Participation Network, Mayo Sports Partnership, Community & Voluntary Service Providers and Local Development Companies. Our communications team reached out on social media channels and local radio to newly formed volunteer groups.
These groups were then mapped and an interactive Map was put up online. This is updated with new information or groups on an ongoing basis, and is accessible here.
At this stage we began to engage with all groups to ensure that all areas were serviced and well-coordinated. We sent a questionnaire to groups to confirm they had volunteers in place, that Garda vetting was considered and where they had been contacted by people that they were able to deal with the issues emerging.
We were beginning to get a clear picture of what was out in the community; which groups were well-coordinated and resourced, which towns or villages needed a call or follow up to get organised and in one or two areas we requested that groups would work together rather than risk duplicating efforts.
Mayo County Council serves the County through four Municipal Districts, Ballina, Claremorris-Swinford, Castlebar and Westport-Belmullet. We identified all our own single tenancy houses in each M.D. and we made a phone call to each tenant, to check-in on them and make sure they felt supported and included.
After the Taoiseach’s TV address on the 27th of March, the Community Support Response Forum was established on an inter-agency basis. It met on the Sunday afternoon and the Mayo Helpline went live on Monday 30th at 08:00.
A full rota of staff from the Council operate the helpline, a process/CRM was put in place and a number of WhatsApp training videos were created and circulated to staff. When someone calls the helpline, the operator uses our online map to find a group and connects the two. A supervisor rings the person back later that day to ensure that they were looked after and the case is then closed out.
The main efforts of the Community Engagement Forum and our own Team will be managed by a number of working groups established under the Forum. These thematic groups will work on the issues identified as ongoing concerns- safety, transport, volunteer training, coordination and resilience.
The Team will ensure that protocols for volunteers are distributed and well understood. We are continuing to get groups connected locally and ensuring their long-term resilience is built up. Training webinars and other online resources/social media platforms are being stepped up and a further questionnaire will be circulated next week to ensure continued engagement.
Mayo community volunteer efforts are of great importance and hugely beneficial to everyone involved. Mayo County Council acknowledges the vital role they have taken on, and we aim to support, coordinate and supplement this on an ongoing basis.
Community Response Line: 094 906 4660
Community Response E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Engagement Map: maphub.net/MayoCommunityEngagement/mayo-county-council
Liam Hanrahan, Head of Community Engagement: 087-3588741