Longford's Community Champion Karen Reilly
Today, Tuesday June 30, marks the end of the successful COVID-19 Community Outreach (CCO) Programme, a joint initiative by The Wheel, the national association of charities, and Irish Rural Link, the national network representing the interest of rural communities and funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Since the Taoiseach’s announced the programme on March 27, 34 Local Community Champions across the country have worked tirelessly to link and support the work of community and voluntary organisations responding to meet the needs of those who were cocooning. The aim of the programme was to ensure no person would be left behind during the pandemic.
Over the last three months, the Community Champion for Longford, Karen Reilly from Longford Women’s Link helped to join the dots and link thousands of people who were cocooning into local services so their needs were fully met, linked volunteers to hundreds of community and voluntary organisations and vice versa and identified gaps in services and reported these back to their local authority forum meeting.
They also dealt with a lot of social issues, such as loneliness among those cocooning, delivery of school meals and food parcels to families in need as well as helping people celebrate their birthdays when family were unable to celebrate with them. Karen worked closely with Siobhán Cronogue, Longford PPN to launch the highly successful ‘HearForYou’ initiative – it is hoped that this will continue throughout 2020.
Both The Wheel and Irish Rural Link are extremely grateful for the hard work and effort the Champions have done in their local communities.
Speaking of the work Karen Reilly has done both Seamus Boland, CEO Irish Rural Link and Deirdre Garvey, CEO of the Wheel said “We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Karen for the tremendous work she has done over the last few months in providing ongoing support to the people, community & voluntary organisations and volunteers in their communities and made the programme the success it was. Karen showed great leadership in their communities and by working together with their local authority, agencies and with community and voluntary organisations they ensured that the needs of every person were met”.
Speaking about the ending of the CCO Programme, the Department of Rural and Community Development said “The Department was delighted to provide funding towards the COVID-19 Community Outreach Project. The Community Champions appointed across the country really sprang into action, helping to coordinate the local community response to the crisis. The DRCD works closely with the Community and Voluntary Sector and this project served to embed that relationship further. We look forward to continuing to work with the sector into the future to help our communities face the challenges of recovery”.
The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on peoples’ mental health and wellbeing will be felt for some time and the necessary supports must be available in communities to support these people.
People affected by COVID-19 will continue to receive support through the government’s Community Call initiative. For more information, call the Longford Community Call Helpline on 043 3344255 or 1800 300 122. This number is available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday.