Cork's Cope Foundation, which supports people with intellectual disabilities, is on a mission to keep the people it supports connected to the community they are missing during the Covid-19 crisis.
The organisation is launching #WhoIMiss, a fundraising campaign to raise €20,000 to purchase communications devices such as smartphones and tablets for people supported by the organisation that will empower people to stay connected to family, friends and key workers during the crisis.
Without access to technology, the Cope Foundation is concerned that people could become very lonely and isolated.
The majority of those they support don’t have their own smartphone or tablet and are relying on others to keep them informed and in touch with the people they are missing.
"We have come so far when it comes to advocacy and empowering the people we support so that they can live life their way and make choices about their lives – but now, it feels like so much of that is gone.
"Our residents are relying on staff to make phone calls home and to their friends," Elaine O'Connell, Clinical Nurse Manager in Mallow and Kanturk said.
"A lot of their independence has been curtailed as we cannot get out and about as normal in the community.
"The visitor restrictions are really challenging for all of us.
"It is heartbreaking for our residents, their families, friends and even for us staff who would ordinarily be in a few different centres or locations on a daily or weekly basis," she continued.
Ms O'Connell said she is missing the face to face interactions with the people the Cope Foundation supports.
"When I was training to be a nurse, a colleague told me that we would spend more time with residents than we would our own families. This is so true.
"Not being able to see some of the residents at the moment is very difficult.
"I also miss being in the car with people we support – it may seem silly but the car is where I would have some of the best conversations with people as they feel they can confide in you privately."
In a video made by Avril Keating of the Cope Foundation for the fundraising campaign she said she's looking forward to seeing her nephews when the Covid-19 crisis passes, but that she's lucky to have access to technology to phone and video call them.
"I love being part of the residents' lives. They are my second family, but I miss my first family," she said.
Cope Foundation is on a mission to raise €20,000 to fund a suite of tablets and necessary devices which will be given to people it supports for their own use.
Right now, the vast majority of people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism are not receiving the vital support they need and rely on.
Daily routines have had to change, plans and community activities postponed or halted, relationships with peers and staff are confined to the phone or email, for those who have access, and many are now living with family members full time, something that can cause significant stress for the person and their family.
All Day Centres are closed, respite has stopped and whilst most residential centres are operating, they do so with very strict visitor restrictions.
If you would like to donate, visit: https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/11384582_-whoimiss---cope-foundation.html to contribute and tell the world who you miss right now.
You can share photos or even make a short video for that person on social media and tag them using #WhoIMiss