The County Council’s freephone helpline for vulnerable people seeking local supports during the Covid-19 crisis has received over 260 calls for assistance.
The dedicated community support helpline launched on March 31 to help people who are considered at risk for Covid-19, such as the elderly and those with underlying condition, to access non-medical and non-emergency supports during this health crisis.
The freephone helpline is one of the cornerstones of the council’s newly established Community Response Forum, which coordinates the efforts of local community and voluntary groups.
It also provides a forum for such community groups to share information and harmonise their efforts with state bodies such as the HSE and An Garda Síochana.
Chief Executive of Galway County Council, Mr. Kevin Kelly says that there has been a major response from all corners, including community groups and sporting organisations, to help out during the Covid-19 crisis.
He added that in the past few weeks council staff have seen an amazing local response to this crisis demonstrating a “strong sense of care and neighbourly attitude” in Galway.
“All the representatives on the Galway County Community Response Forum have been outstanding in supplying practical clear information,” he added.
These groups have been providing both information and direct support to those in need, he said, especially for people who have 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 with the county council, said “the focus is 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”.
Partnerships have also been put in place with the Order of Malta and other groups to provide transport to hospital appointments.
Approximately 40% of calls in early April were related to the delivery or collection of groceries, and 10% were about non-emergency medical issues such as collecting prescriptions
The Freephone number 1800-92 88 94 can be contacted Monday to Sunday, seven days a week between 9am and 6pm.
People in need, mainly those who are cocooning or otherwise require additional assistance, can speak to a council staff member who will identify their specific needs and connect them with groups in their area who can help meet them.
“While no personal details are shared, we do look at the number and type of calls daily and this is added up nationally,” Alan Farrell said.
These have shown that Galway county has similar level and type of calls to other large rural areas with a spread of large towns, such as Kerry, Donegal and Mayo.
He further advised people to share their EIRCODE if it’s 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. Or they can email email@example.com.