Old and vulnerable people are becoming frustrated and bored in the midst of the lockdown the head of a Cork support service has said.
Brenda Barry, who runs the HSE funded Cork City Partnership service Friendly Call, which rings 370 people on a daily basis, said the relaxation of measures has not made much difference to their clients as they are mostly cocooning and still can’t even do their own shopping.
“The referrals are still coming in,” Ms Barry said.
A stream of new volunteers, some of whom are cocooning, retired or let go indefinitely from their job, have been trained in through online video calls on Zoom and Ms Barry said the service is settling in for the long haul.
“We are still recruiting volunteers.” Ms Barry said they have increased their client base considerably and she is constantly worried that the new volunteers will need to go back to work or leave and they won’t be able to handle the demand.
The service now has 50 volunteers working from home whereas before it had 27.
As well as calling clients, Brenda said the service works with other services to help out anyway it can, from getting books, jigsaw puzzles and word searches dropped off to walking dogs.
“People are anxious and bored.” Ms Barry explained, “ We are really busy. People are impatient, they are cross, the relaxation of the restrictions didn’t make much difference to a lot of people.”
The Friendly Call manager said they have had a great response from volunteers who are genuinely interested and willing to help.
“Everyone has a list and they ring five or six people every day. They ring the same people every day and get to know the person.
“The person receiving the calls are so delighted to get a call, for someone to ask how they are and we check if they have any issues with anti-social behaviour or housing, etc.”
Ms Barry said the service would be working remotely for the foreseeable future. “It is a new way of working, anything you can think of, we are doing.” To contact Friendly Call call 021-4301700 or 0876366407.