Galway County Community Response Forum - Press Release 14 April 2020
Tue, 14 Apr 2020 12:22:00 BST
Galway County Freephone Number in Operation for Vulnerable Members of the Community Deals with over 260 calls for Assistance in response to COVID-19 Community Call
April 14th, 2020
Chief Executive of Galway County Council, Mr. Kevin Kelly acknowledges the significant response of State, Local Development, Community and Voluntary Groups and Sporting Organisations across the County, in mobilising Local Supports as part of the National Community Call efforts in reponse to COVID-19.
“Local community and voluntary groups, sporting Organisations and members of the Public Participation Network are supporting vulnerable people, many of whom are self-isolating, to get through this current national public health emergency. My staff have been impressed over the past weeks, by the level of Local Supports available and initiatives that are taking place in communities, demonstrating a strong sense of care and neighbourly attitude that exists in County Galway.”
“Since the Galway County FREEPHONE 1800-92-88-94, launched on Monday March 31st, over 260 requests for assistance have been dealt with.”
Mr. Kevin Kelly, as Chair of Galway County Community Response Forum added,“All the representatives on the Galway County Community Response Forum have been outstanding in supplying pratical clear information on their supports, access to their employees and volunteers, sharing information on the Freephone Number and providing direct support to those in need, especially people who are required to self-isolate. At this time, collaboration and partnership between the community and voluntary sector and the State is crucial. Our Local Development Agencies, PPN Membership and Community Groups area making a real difference in helping individuals at this unprecedented time.”
Mr. Alan Farrell, Acting Director of Services and his Team along with representatives from other Sections, are suppporting the Chief Executive in this Community Call and have linked to local supports throughout the County, working with State Agencies, Local Development Groups, Members of the Public Participation Network (PPN), Sporting, Disability and Carer Organisations.
Mr. Farrell advised “The dedicated community support helpline deals with assisting at-risk members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical supports during the current public health emergency. The focus is on providing practical assistance with the collection and delivery of groceries, collection of fuel, needed prescriptions and setting up the provision of hot meals if necessary and helps those who are ‘cocooning’ or vulnerable. Transport to necessary hospital appointments has been arranged and there are partnerships in place with the Order of Malta and others to provide this vital link. Over the past 10 days, approximately, forty percent of calls relate to the request for the delivery and collection of Groceries and just other 10% for non-emergency medical including collection of prescriptions and transport to essential medical appointments. A further 46% relate to a variety of queries in COVID-19 Measures, such as concerns about income and, queries on where to source information, with the balance of calls related to social isolation and general wellbeing”.
Mr. Farrell commented, “While no personal details are shared, we do look at the number and type of calls daily and this is added up nationally. County Galway has a similar level and type of calls to other large rural areas with a spread of large towns, such as Kerry, Donegal and Mayo. We will keep working to promote our service and wish to thank the media, our Members, all our service partners and local groups for sharing and promoting the 1800-92-88-98 number. We also have an email at email@example.com and Offers of Assistance by Local Groups and Requests for Assistance can be logged on the homepage of www.galway.ie. May groups can deal with queries in a large geographical area and these are mapped on our website also. Individuals who wish to volunteer are being advised to contact the Galway Volunteer Centre who can provide clear advice on the best practice”.
Mr. Farrell added, the Freephone 1800-92 88 94 can be contacted Monday to Sunday, seven days a week between 9.00am and 6.00pm.
Mr. Farrell in explaining how the Service works said, “Members of the public, mainly those who are cocooning or need assistance, can use the 1800 Freephone Number and speak to a Member of Council Staff, who will go through some simple details with them and identify their need based on our service areas. Using our mapping system and working with verified and trusted groups and agencies, we consider what local group or what agency could best assist the person. We then link the person to the supports and do follow up calls as required to make sure it worked out well for the person and they have received the service they need. Calls in relation to medical matters or income are directed to the existing HSE Phonelines and Welfare Services, our focus is on practical day to day supports and social isolation”.
He further advised people to share their EIRCODE if it is known, “as the Service can use this to pinpoint a more exact location however, it is not necessary, and people should still call if they need help. If someone is calling on behalf of someone else, they consider may need help, then if possible, ask that person in advance if they have heard of the service or need the 1800 number. If that is not possible our staff have other options but, this is the most appropriate”.
Mr. Farrell added “Even in an emergency it can be difficult to ask for help. Confidentiality and Privacy are respected and Forum Co-ordinator Ms. Mary McGann, has overseen protocols. All staff and groups involved are verified and work off solid, advice for people giving and receiving supports, based on HSE and Public Health Guidelines. We work closely with An Garda Síochana, HSE and other Agencies as needed. The collection of medical prescriptions for example, is dealt with under clear HSE and Pharmacy Regulation Guidelines, so that privacy and safety is not compromised”.
Chief Executive Kevin Kelly concluded, “Community Call is an unprecedented mobilisation of Government, Local Authority and voluntary resources and the response of local groups in this County has been outstanding. It is heartening to observe and as Chief Executive of Galway County Council on behalf of our Members and Staff we are happy to be playing our part.”