Working to ensure those cocooning or the vulnerable receive supports

RAPID Co-ordinator Sandra O’Meara tells us about her work with Community Response Forum for Cork City Council, juggling home-schooling and what makes her happy
Working to ensure those cocooning or the vulnerable receive supports

Sandra O'Meara, RAPID Coordinator Cork City Council. Picture: Darragh Kane

TELL us about yourself; My name is Sandra O’Meara, I am Cork born and bred, living in Ballinlough but originally from Douglas. One of my favourite phrases is the ABCD — Ah But Cork is Different, and we are.

I am currently working in Community, Culture & Placemaking in Cork City Council and previous to this I worked in Cork Simon Community as a manager.

My current role of Rapid Co-ordinator and Social, Economic and Environmental Manager has had to shift down a few gears the last number of months as I have been focusing the majority of my attention on the Community Response Form for Cork city, ensuring those who need support during Covid are linked into their local services. We set up 16 area teams across the city to ensure that those who are cocooning or vulnerable were able to receive the supports they needed.

Working as part of the Community Response and leading two of the teams has been a huge honour, the kindness of people and the willingness to provide help and support has been second to none. This is where the ABCD came into effect when we set up the 16 area teams in a matter of hours. The local community response teams are a success because they are based on relationships and connection.

Over the years, as Rapid Coordinator for Togher/Mahon/Ballyphehane and now Knocknaheeny/Hollyhill/Churchfield/Gurranbraher, my role was always based on connection with local communities, the leaders and services within the communities. These relationships which the whole team has fostered over the years allowed Cork City to ensure that no one was missed, and people were supported with shopping, medical appointments, and wellbeing packs among other things.

Each day is different as needs emerge, last week I was packing wellbeing activity packs for younger children and teens as well as ensuring the delivery of our Blue Vests to our community partners. 

The Blue Vests are a great initiative which came about through the Community response team in Mahon, they are a great visual to give people some space when they are out and about as they may have underlying health conditions or be a carer, etc.

All of this is being done while balancing home-schooling my three kids, it’s all about perspective and shifting expectations.

There is lots of stress and anxiety out there now for so many of us, including our children who are missing their friends and social outlets. 

I have really drawn on my training as an Incredible Years practitioner over the past few months and found spending just 10 minutes quality time each day with each of my three has really helped to work out any worries and fears they may have, and it helps me to focus on being present and connected with each of them, we try to have fun and there is lots of dancing around the kitchen on the rainy days to release all the energy.

Where do you live?

I am born and bred in the Rebel County. From Douglas originally, I now live in Ballinlough, just a short stroll from the city centre.

Family?

I have one sister who lives in Canada with my niece and nephew. My mum and Dad live a 5-minute drive away which I just love, my mum is one of my best supporters and friends. I am married to Rory and we have three children, Tiernan is 10 and his twin sisters Quinn and Caoimhe are eight so it’s a busy house

Best friend?

I am very blessed with a small but amazing group of friends, many of whom I have had since school. We are always there for each other, as Oprah says, lots of people want to ride with you in the limo but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down and I definitely have that; no matter what, we are always there for each other.

Earliest childhood memory?

I have lots of different memories but the one that pops up is when I decided in my infinite wisdom as a five year old to go for a cycle to the local shop with a neighbour who was very mature at six and we didn’t tell our parents. As you can imagine, panic ensued once our parents realised we were gone. I wasn’t allowed the jellies for a week, I remember them being in my little blue basket on my sparkly silver bike. From our point of view, it was a very successful trip, however our parents didn’t agree.

Person you most admire?

I think I would have to say people here as just one person is too hard. 

Firstly my parents, they have always pushed the boundaries and always advocated for older people. 

They set up two social housing projects for older people back in the 1980s and dedicated their working lives to ensuring people had a home and knew they were cared for.

On a wider level, I think Jacinda Ardern is an incredible leader, putting the people of her country before all else. I love following Australians Kristy Forbes and Allison Davies, both of whom are fantastic advocates in the neurodiversity movement, they support parents worldwide in being in tune with themselves and their children.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

It has to be my honeymoon, we spent three weeks in Mauritius and Dubai, pure bliss. Second to this would be the last time I was in Crete with the girls, crazy time and fab memories.

Favourite TV programme?

This is a hard one as I love getting lost in a good series. All time favourites have to be Buffy and Charmed, I would watch these again and again and never get bored. I love Grey’s Anatomy — 17 seasons and still going.

Favourite radio show?

I don’t tend to listen to the radio, I only recently committed to Spotify. But I really enjoy listing to podcasts and one of my favourites is The Two Norries, I think James and Timmy are giving people a chance to tell their stories, they are really connecting the dots of the long term impact our early childhood experiences and trauma have on life choices.

Your proudest moment?

That’s a tricky one, I think on a personal level it is becoming a mum and watching us all grow and learn. Watching my children grow into amazing people has me in awe, they are outside the box thinkers and they care deeply about having an equitable world.

On a professional level, it is having organised Trauma-informed training on a city-wide level for more than 500 people with Dr Karen Treisman and representing Cork City Council and Healthy Cities in Oslo at the WHO taskforce on adversity and trauma, and presenting on Corks approach to becoming a Trauma Informed City.

What makes you happy?

I’m happiest when I’m present in the moment, this can be a challenge as we all live such busy lives. Spending time with my family and friends, reading to the kids, and spending time in nature. The beach is my happy place, I love to spend my summers in Clonea, Dungarvan, walking the beach, trekking in the woods, cycling the greenway and playing giant Jenga with the kids..

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