FOOD PARCELS: Staff at Ballyspillane Family Resource Centre have donated over 300 food parcels to the community over recent weeks. Pictured were: Connie O’Leary (Manager), Marian McCabe (Community Development Worker), and Reception Team Leaders Sophie Haighway and Norma Costello. Photo: Michelle Crean

By Michelle Crean

One community is working harder than ever during the COVID outbreak as they experienced a sharp increase in demand for their services.

Staff at Ballyspillane Family Resource Centre have been working hard behind the scenes helping source, fill and deliver over 300 food parcels containing non-perishable essential goods as increase in referrals for support suddenly rose.

Since the onset of the pandemic, there’s been a particularly high demand for parent and family supports, food parcels, and counselling and mental health services while income generated by FRCs has fallen steeply, according to the results of a survey released by the Family Resource Centre National Forum (FRCNF), the national representative body for FRCs.

Locally is no different as Ballyspillane FRC staff have not stopped working at all as they try to cater for all levels of support requests.

“We have seen a vast in increase in referrals and demand for family support, food parcels and essential basic supplies for young children and babies,” Manager of Ballyspillane FRC, Connie O’Leary, told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

“Referrals have come in through the local authority Kerry Community Helpline, Social Work Department, PPFS Kerry and KASI Migrant Centre and Killarney Mental Health Services.

“We haven’t stopped working at all. It has increased two fold and there’s a huge amount of work being done.”

In one week alone the FRC provided 31 food parcels to families in the Killarney community including vouchers for families living in Atlas House Direct Provision Centre, two laptops and a tablet for second level students for homework and educational learning. Family Support Workers facilitated 10 Meitheal check-ins sessions with families and made 29 phone contact calls and seven face to face meetings through social distancing.

“Thankfully with the additional financial support from Tusla and Kerry Prevention Partnership and Family Support we have been able to respond and provide these essential supplies to new families referred to the FRC. We are also linking in with the local SVdP to support the elderly in our communities for Meals on Wheels supports.”

She added that South Kerry Development Partnership (SKDP) are delivering the food parcels for them to minimise the spread of the virus from person to person.