Lord Mayor Councillor John Sheehan has recognised the invaluable contribution the community and voluntary sector of Cork has made to the life of its citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic at this year’s Community and Voluntary Awards.
The Lord Mayor said that the strong ties Cork people have to their community “demonstrates that even in times of great uncertainty, there is a wonderful tenderness and beauty” to the city and its residents.
Held annually since 2004, the Lord Mayor's Community and Voluntary Awards has seen 250 organisations which have played a significant role in enhancing the quality of life in their communities recognised for their contribution to the city.
The awards have traditionally been won by groups working in a diverse range of areas, from caring for the elderly to arranging cultural events, from organising youth groups to supporting residents association, and a host of other community activities.
This year’s awards were of significant importance following Cork’s response to the pandemic which saw the creation of the Cork City Covid-19 Community Response Forum (CRF) to ensure that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access vital grocery, medicine and fuel deliveries and social care supports.
Under the umbrella of the Cork City Community Response Forum, community and voluntary groups stepped up to aid the most vulnerable when they needed it most and this year the City is honouring all of the community groups and volunteers who proved that community spirit continues to burn bright in the city.
As part of Cork City Council’s Community Response Forum, a dedicated free-phone helpline aimed at supporting vulnerable residents was set up on March 30 and received over 300 calls in its first week of operation.
Cork City Council staff, the HSE, An Garda Siochána and community organisations such as Meals on Wheels were among the partner groups who responded to requests for support from people in the area.
Speaking at a special broadcast of the awards on Cork City Council’s YouTube account yesterday, the Lord Mayor said that although this year’s ceremony was celebrated differently, that one thing that has not changed is “the generosity and spirit of Cork’s community and voluntary organisations”.
“There is an Irish Seanfhocal that states “ar Scáth a Chéile a mhairimíd” translating as “We live in each other’s shadow”. In general terms, this is taken to mean we are each other’s protective shade. Never has this been more true or more necessary. Let us continue to provide that shelter and support throughout these troubled times,” he said.
Editor of The Echo which is a co-sponsor of the awards, Maurice Gubbins, highlighted the various groups in the community who have kept the spirit of Cork alive even in the most trying times the city has experienced.
Groups which continued to work in a hugely diverse range of areas during Covid-19, included social services, charities and environment, social inclusion, advocacy and guidance, health and wellbeing, community development and continuing education, and arts, culture, recreation and sport.
Mr Gubbins said that if only a 10 second clip of each of the organisations were to be shown that the segment would last 45 minutes.
Instead, a five minute glimpse into the work undertaken across the city was given in the form of a video highlighting the cultural, sporting, education, charity and advocacy groups involved in the battle against Covid-19.
The Lord Mayor said that the people of Cork have always been known for their sense of community but that the “unity of purpose” he witnessed over the past three and a half months demonstrated their strong ties to their city.