DOUGLAS legend Phil Goodman will let nothing stop her trojan community work - not even a pandemic which forced her to cocoon.
In 2004, Phil founded the Young at Heart Douglas Senior Citizens club and since then she is very much the driving force behind the organisation.
“I identified a need in our own community in Douglas for people to meet and socialise,” she said.
“I felt there was a gap in the level of care that existed for our older people in the community. Here were people who had reared their families in difficult times and were instrumental in the Ireland of today. They deserved better than they were being given,” she said.
The Young at Heart group started from the grassroots up and has now evolved into a force to be reckoned with.
“From just ten people at the start we grew very quickly. Now we have around 250-300 members,” Phil told.
From knitting to computer classes and even Tai Chi, the Young at Heart group exemplifies that “just because you’re over the hill doesn’t mean you’ve run out of stream” says Phil.
The slew of activities the group usually partakes in, although significantly reduced due to the pandemic, have not all come to a halt.
“We have a ‘Step Up to Your Health’ project with UCC still ongoing remotely,” Phil said.
“The members who were involved in the Step Up to Your Health Initiative with UCC used activity trackers to count their steps and encourage walking. People found it was a very good motivator.”
The Young at Heart group also operates a Care-Ring service, a group of ten trained and vetted volunteers who contact anyone who would like to avail of a chat over the phone.
“We have ten volunteers who phone from their own homes by mobiles supplied by the HSE.
"This has been going for about 12 years now but in recent months has been even more important with older people having to stay at home,” Phil said.
Another important programme which the Young at Heart group have kept going during the pandemic is delivering food parcels to people across Douglas village and its environs.
This is part of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) initiative, which helps those on the margins of society and who are in need of essential food support.
“We started this back in 2011, Phil explained. “It’s always very busy but it has been exceptionally so since Covid. It’s doubled in demand really.”
Phil expressed her sincere thanks to Community Gardaí who also assist with this programme.
Sergeant Michael O’Connell Community Policing, Cork City Division said his team have built up a fantastic relationship with Phil over the years.
“As Community Guards through Phil’s hard work over the last few years we came on board to assist with delivering the hundreds of food parcels made up on a weekly basis.
"Community Guards mainly from Douglas, Togher, and Anglesea Street work as a team to assist Phil in packing the food before delivering it across the City.
"Through Young at Heart, Phil and the great bond with Community Policing, we have built up a great relationship and this came to the fore in the recent crisis as it helped us to identify vulnerable people and assist them in any way we could by carrying out welfare checks, pharmacy drops etc,” he said.
“With the help of the Garda Contingency vehicles which were assigned to us we were able to drive and collect the large amounts of food donated through the food bank in Little Island.
"As the Community Sergeant I am very proud of my team who carry out their tasks and duties in a very professional manner.
"It takes a special individual to be a Community Guard, it requires patience, understanding, dedication and a good personality.
"I am very lucky with the Community Guards currently on my team,” Sergeant O’Connell continued.
“It goes without saying that the driving force behind this initiative is Phil Goodman and we as Community Guards play a supporting role. Her dedication to the cause is unbelievable and truly inspirational.”