Cork City Council’s newly established Community Response Forum (CRF) helpline has received more than 300 calls since it started operating last week.
The freephone helpline was set up in order to try to support vulnerable residents in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A separate helpline is also being operated by Cork County Council.
According to Cork City Council, the majority of calls to its helpline so far have related to the collection and delivery of groceries, prescriptions, fuel, and other essential household items, as well as the delivery of meals.
Cork City Council staff, the HSE, An Garda Siochána and community organisations such as Meals on Wheels are amongst the partner groups who are responding to these requests for support.
It says that it is also receiving requests for support due to an increasing sense of social isolation, with a number of people experiencing loneliness as they stay at home.
CRF can connect residents with Friendly Call Cork, a service that was set up to tackle loneliness among older people, those with physical and mental disabilities and those who are socially isolated.
It has expanded its services to deal with COVID-19 and the Cork City Partnership team has brought on more volunteers to meet the increased demand.
“We are delighted to see that the people of Cork are using this helpline and we would encourage people, who maybe have never asked for help before, to not be afraid to pick up the phone,” said Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. John Sheehan.
“These are unprecedented times for us all - but don’t forget we are all in this together and we will likely come out the other side with a deeper appreciation of the important things in life - and that includes living in a city which is rich in community supports and community spirit.
“There are many local organisations and agencies doing super work in delivering care to older and vulnerable people in our communities and the Community Response Forum is aimed at building on this, not duplicating it," he said.
The Forum has created 16 local area teams in the city with a Cork City Council community worker and HSE community worker in each area who will work with ‘local champions’ - the existing voluntary organisations and groups who know their locality and can help match need with service delivery.
Denis Barrett, Cork City Community Response Forum Co-Ordinator explained: “Each of the 16 local areas also has a link to Community Garda Services. Several Cork City Council employees have already been redeployed to help the community support effort and the numbers redeployed are growing every day.
"From manning the new Community Call freephone helpline, to delivering shopping, meals, and medication, Cork City Council staff have embraced their new roles, in the true spirit of public service. We are all in this together.”
The Cork City Community Call telephone number is 1800 222 226 or you can email email@example.com if you require support during the COVID-19 emergency.