Volunteers at Cork’s Friendly Call service are currently making an additional 60 to 80 calls weekly to people who are living alone.
It has been revealed that the service has witnessed a 27 per cent hike in phone calls since COVID-19 restrictions began.
The service is run by Cork City Partnership and is one of more than 30 organisations taking part in the Community Response Forum (CRF).
The CRF is being co-ordinated by Cork City Council and ensures that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access vital grocery, medicine and fuel deliveries and social care supports.
The increase in calls is attributed to an increased number of referrals to the service coming from the CRF helpline, Alone, public health nurses, hospital discharge co-ordinators, social workers and other HSE staff.
There has also been an increase in the number of self-referrals – some of whom are people with existing mental health needs who find the current restrictions challenging.
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr John Sheehan visited the project at the Parochial Hall in Churchfield as he wanted to thank the Cork City Partnership team for their “trojan efforts to support the wider community”.
“These staff and another 40 volunteers are now making daily ‘friendly calls’ to people who derive great benefit from that daily check-in. Ten of these volunteers joined up in recent weeks as the Cork City Volunteer Centre have been a great support. It’s something that I hope we will carry with us after all of this ends: the sense that we are all in this together and that we can make a huge difference in our communities when we all come together”.
Brenda Barry, from Cork City Partnership added: “Apart from making phone calls, we are helping clients by shopping for groceries and dropping them off for people with no family.
"We are walking dogs, collecting prescriptions and we’ve dropped in St Vincent de Paul and St Vincents GAA hampers to others.
"We had volunteers drop a cake and Easter egg into a 93-year-old man this week for his birthday. We ring him regularly and he was delighted with the surprise at the door.
"We are also working with gardaí to make arrangements to help people to collect pensions.”
Friendly Call operates Monday to Friday.
The CRF dedicated helpline is available from 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week at 1800-222-226.
Support can also be accessed via firstname.lastname@example.org.