Members of Limavady Volunteer Centre are looking at ways in which the centre can support local people at this difficult time.
A County Derry community group has called on local organisations to pool their resources in a bid to protect the most vulnerable from the spread of Covid-19.
The Volunteer Centre at Limavady Community Development Initiative (LCDI) has been co-ordinating the response to the crisis and is also the temporary base for the local food bank.
LCDI has encouraged all local volunteers to register with Limavady Volunteer Centre to provide help and support to members of the community who have had to self-isolate.
Ashleen Shenning, the group’s manager, said that maximising resources would be key to dealing with the crisis.
She said: “What I have done is send out emails to what I would see as the most pro-active or the bigger of the community organisations within the council area.
“We want to find out what is going on in each of the areas and if we use that and grow that within that area, or do we need to place a volunteer to work for the vulnerable in that area? Solo runs are great, but you’re not really maximising all your resources when you’re doing that and this is probably community planning coming into its best at this particular time.”
The Limavady Food Bank, run by St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army, has come under pressure recently, with many of its volunteers already in precautionary self-isolation.
“We’re trying to be as reactive and responsive as we possibly can,” said Ashleen.
“Unfortunately, the food bank is run by a lot of volunteers over the age of 70.
“They’ve actually had to recruit new volunteers because theirs have had to self-isolate.
“I think what we really need to be prepared for is that the food banks are going to be inundated with people.
“We’re already seeing mass unemployment and what was a five-week wait on Universal Credit – what is that going to be like now?”
The Volunteer Centre already provides services for vulnerable older people, offering good morning calls, providing meals and establishing who needs help with shopping or prescriptions.
Through contacting those vulnerable people, they have also been able to identify required services that haven’t featured to date.
Ashleen said: “There are things like dogwalking that people aren’t thinking about but when we contact vulnerable people and families, they tell us.
“We can think about it as much as we like, but they’re going to know more about what they need and what they want.”
The Causeway Coast & Glens councillor stressed that, in such an extraordinary situation, everyone is just doing their best to help.
She said: “Everybody is learning from each other. Nobody has all the right answers so it’s imperative that we all work together. We’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
Here are the contact details for some other local organisations who are willing to help people:
Ballinascreen GAC – Facebook @Ballinascreen GAC
Bellaghy Village Regeneration – Facebook @bellaghyvillageregeneration, telephone 07857907538
Lavey Support Group – Sean McPeake 07799888805
MS Society Mid Ulster - Eilish from MS Society is available for support. The MS Society domiciliary therapy service will continue as usual unless advice changes. Therapists will contact client to check that everyone in household is well before their visit. Telephone 07856097917, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: @MS Society Mid-Ulster Group.
Achieve Wellbeing Counselling Services - Telephone 07983467476
St Patrick's GAC, Loup – email email@example.com
Magherafelt (Town) Helpers Group – 0-7989459362, email firstname.lastname@example.org
O'Donovan Rossa GAC, Magherafelt – Stephen 07917133260, Siobhan 07720890044
More help and information is available on the websites of Mid Ulster Council and Causeway Coast and Glens Council.
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