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NUI Galway students ‘Build Boxes’ to support vulnerable during COVID

Students from NUI Galway have come up with a unique idea to support people in high-risk groups during the pandemic by sending parcels to help ease isolation.

The Build-a-Box campaign is being run by occupational therapy students at NUIG, in partnership with COPE Galway, Galway City Partnership and a local DEIS primary school.

The charitable initiative was designed by third year undergraduates in the service-learning module Community Engagement who aim to lessen the impact of social distancing for some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Around 100 boxes filled with items to reduce the negative effects of confinement are being delivered to older adults living alone, women in Direct Provision, homeless women and children with additional needs and in lower socio-economic groups.

Commenting on the initiative, President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said that in the context of ongoing clinic​al and academic demands, he commends the students for helping to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“Initiatives such as the Build-a-Box campaign emulate NUI Galway’s vision and values of openness and respect, of our students and staff as citizens connected to and contributing to community and society in Ireland and internationally for the public good,” said Professor Ó hÓgartaigh.

Dr Sinéad Hynes, lecturer in Occupational Therapy in NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, added that loneliness and isolation are significant issues for many people, particularly older people, and this has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

“The students have taken ownership of this project and partnered with community organisations, which is especially difficult when working remotely,” Dr Hynes said.

“It is our hope that the Build-a-Box campaign might be one way in which we can support those in our society who may be more severely impacted by the restrictions.”

Occupational therapy student Maria Stapleton from Loughrea said, “It was really interesting to learn about the impact of the pandemic on different vulnerable groups, and working with the community partners gave us a different perspective on the effect it has had.”

Fellow student Lorraine Moloney from Corrandulla, added that the Build-a-Box campaign was a rewarding and challenging experience.

“It gave me a better understanding of the effects of the pandemic on vulnerable groups, while providing our class with an opportunity to address these issues and make a difference in their lives,” said Lorraine.

Michael Malone
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