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Press Release

Minister Ring urges communities to rally round and support their vulnerable neighbours

Published: 15 March 2020
From: Department of Rural and Community Development

Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has emphasised the important role of communities in supporting their vulnerable neighbours over the coming weeks.

The mobilisation of local community & voluntary groups and the engagement of volunteers at local level can play a crucial part in ensuring that vulnerable people living in the community can continue to have their needs met in the event that their usual sources of support become unavailable.

Minister Ring said:

“The COVID-19 outbreak presents a challenge for individuals and communities across Ireland. In these exceptional circumstances, all community members have a role to play in helping those who may require additional support.
“Basic needs such as doing the weekly shopping, ensuring the house is warm and clean and keeping in regular contact by phone are among the tasks that local volunteers can carry out to enable vulnerable people to continue to live their daily lives safely in the community.
“My Department is putting arrangements in place to support communities in helping vulnerable neighbours in their communities over the coming weeks. The supports provided by my Department will play a vital role in the overall Government response to the current situation.
“I note from social media in recent days the numerous offers of help from people within our communities to assist more vulnerable people. I very much welcome this, and we are working to coordinate and support these efforts. At the same time, I would strongly advise communities and volunteers to follow the most recent advices from the HSE and ensure that this is the message being delivered across our community network.
“My Department is leading efforts across Government to encourage and facilitate community engagement in response to the needs of vulnerable people – such as older people or people with disabilities – who are living independently in the community.
“Stakeholders in the community and voluntary sector with whom my officials are engaging include Alone, Age Friendly Network, Volunteer Ireland, Pobal, The Wheel, the ILDN, Irish Rural Link and many more.
“At the core of this is the continued provision of support to the most vulnerable members of our communities, and what we can do to help them.
“The Department is also working with Volunteer Ireland and the 22 Volunteer Centres around the country to enable them to match people who wish to volunteer with priority tasks, as identified by local statutory and voluntary service providers.
“While a whole of Government coordinated approach is the backbone to planning for and managing the effects of this emergency, solutions are ultimately implemented at a community level. My Department is working on a number of specific actions in partnership with the community and voluntary sector to support communities in their efforts.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

As part of the Government’s response to Covid-19, the Department of Rural and Community Development is chairing an Advisory Group on the Community Response. The Chair of the Advisory Group will report to the NPHET Subgroup on Vulnerable People which is tasked with providing oversight and assurance with regard to the specific preparedness, measures and actions that need to be taken to protect vulnerable groups and individuals in society.

The overarching purpose of the Advisory Group is to encourage and facilitate community engagement in response to the needs of vulnerable people – such as older people or people with disabilities - living in the community.

The Advisory Group will assist the Department of Rural & Community Development to -

1. Identify particular geographic areas and/or client groups where additional community supports may be required

2. Define the nature of the supports that could be provided by community volunteers who are not professionally qualified

3. Identify measures to encourage members of the community to consider the needs of vulnerable people in their locality and to take appropriate action

4. Identify measures to facilitate people in communities who wish to volunteer: including linking with existing statutory and voluntary service providers, training, co-ordination, management etc.

5. Advise on appropriate communications generally and with relevant groups/stakeholders

6. Advise on proposals to be advanced for consideration of the NPHET Sub-Group on Vulnerable People