The Lord Mayor’s Community and Voluntary Awards 2021 have recognised the work of the city’s Covid Heroes who stepped up to help those most in need during what has been a difficult year for all.
The awards recognise the work of the voluntary organisations that continued to provide services throughout the city during the pandemic under the umbrella of the Cork City Community Response Forum.
The winner of the Lord Mayor’s Community and Voluntary Award 2021 in the Social Services and Environment category is Let’s Grow Together, previously known as Young Knocknaheeny.
Let’s Grow Together has been working to support children in the northwest area of the city from their earliest development to give them the best start in life since 2015.
The organisation strives to create a community where children experience happy, healthy and thriving childhoods that last a lifetime and where no child is left behind, working in partnership with everyone important in children’s lives, from parents to caregivers and schools, sharing knowledge, skills and resources.
Manager of Let’s Grow Together Katherine Harford said that pre-Covid a lot of their work would have been in-person, working with parents and caregivers in homes and providing various groups including baby massage and language groups.
She said that “everything changed” when Covid-19 hit and that a lot of the organisation’s work had to move online.
She said that they supported, in particular during the lockdown, people with new babies coming home for the first time and parents of babies and children who weren’t at school because of restrictions.
There were issues with the digital divide, we noticed that people didn’t have access to the internet or to devices so we provided some equipment for people to participate in our work.
“We also supported families who found the cost of having children at home challenging, so providing food and care packs as well for parents and activities for children,” she said.
The organisation also got involved in the Community Response Forum “helping in the collective efforts of the city” and helped with initiatives such as Let’s Play Cork which provided activities to children and older people across the city.
Ms Harford paid tribute to the whole team and the board of management who she said were so committed to the cause throughout the pandemic.
We were all affected by Covid-19 but the team always responded to the needs of the community in a very committed, caring, compassionate way while also being personally affected by Covid and the restrictions.
She also acknowledged the parents who have done and continue to do “the best they can” during restrictions and those who made the most of the time they had with their kids at home during restrictions.
She said she was surprised to have won the award as she was not aware they had been nominated and that it was “a real honour and a privilege” to accept it on behalf of the team.
“We got a beautiful picture and we’re about to move into new buildings so it will take pride of place on the wall,” she said.