Today (20 March 2020) Minister for Rural and Community Development Mr. Michael Ring, TD, and Minister of State for Community Affairs Sean Canney
launched the COVID-19 Government Action Plan to support the Community response.
This Action Plan, which has been put together in partnership with other Government Departments, State Agencies and our extensive network of community and voluntary organisations, sets out three key areas of initial focus in supporting a community response to COVID-19.
The 3 key initiatives are:
• Letting people know how and where they volunteer through our partnership with Volunteer Ireland and our network of Volunteer Centres
• To provide community supports for older people by providing funding to ALONE for their crisis telephone support line and follow through practical supports
• Launching an email helpdesk facility from today (20 March) in the Department of Rural and Community Development to assist smaller community groups with their queries
Government has committed to putting the required funding and resources in place immediately and Minister Ring’s Department will be working with our partners to implement the measures on the ground as quickly as possible. Work in this regard has already commenced.
The unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 crisis will require the re-prioritisation, and re-direction of activities, new contingency arrangements to maintain and support critical services, and new flexibilities in the use of resources in the community and voluntary sector.
Minister Ring said:
I want to assure everyone that the Government is taking every possible action to pre-empt and prepare for the challenges we are facing now and for the ones that lie ahead. We are most fortunate that we have the people, the organisations, the systems and the goodwill already in place and we will be supportive and flexible in our approach.
Minister Canney said:
We have the Public Participation Network, Volunteer Centres, sporting bodies, farming organisations, community councils and other stakeholders and agencies all in place.
We are now providing a focus for people so our national community efforts will be co-ordinated for optimum effect. Now is the time for the big meitheal. Now is the time to demonstrate once again our ability as a nation to help each other and look after the most vulnerable in our communities.
This Action Plan, which has been put together in partnership with other Government Departments, State Agencies and our extensive network of community and voluntary organisations, sets out three key areas of initial focus in supporting a community response to COVID-19. Minister Ring also drew attention to his Department’s Seniors Alert Scheme, which provides monitored alarms for older people to enable them to live safely and securely in their homes.
There are now approximately 80,000 of these alarms in the community and the Minister urged older people who have them to ensure they are activated.
Maybe you got a pendant alarm a few years ago but it’s lying forgotten in a drawer somewhere … now is the time to find it and contact your local community organisation to ensure it’s activated,
the Minister said.
The Minister also reminded people to only use information received from official sources.
While a whole of Government coordinated approach is the backbone to planning for and managing the effects of this emergency, solutions are ultimately implemented at a community level,
the Minister said.
In this context, my Department has a role to play in fostering the links that bring communities together as we are aware of how strengthening community links helps to improve preparedness and responsiveness in emergencies.
It is also really important to remember that volunteering should be done in a safe way so that neither volunteers nor those in need are put at risk.
The dedicated Helpdesk service to registered community organisations is firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on volunteering, please visit https://www.volunteer.ie/
Older people who have questions or concerns can contact the Alone helpline on 0818 222 014 or the Senior helpline on 1800 804 591.
Additionally the Action Plan is now live on gov.ie here > https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/58a0a9-you-your-community-and-covid-19/