A new free and confidential Kerry phone helpline has been launched this morning (Monday) to assist members of the public in accessing non-emergency and non-medical services and to provide support and advice to people during the current public health emergency.
The service has been established by the new COVID-19 Kerry Community Response Forum which includes over a dozen agencies and organisations who have come together to mobilise and coordinate the community and voluntary response to the current crisis, particularly in responding to the needs of vulnerable households and individuals.
The freephone number 1800 807 009 is now up and running and will be available from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. A text line (50555), is also available for the hearing impaired or those who require a call-back from the service while requests can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The helpline, which is manned by trained volunteers, is focussed primarily on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of essential items like groceries, medicine and fuel. Where another agency or organisation can provide more appropriate information or advice, the caller will be connected with other organisations or services if required.
10,000 information leaflets including details of the new freephone number and other information are being distributed around the county over the coming days. This will be done through existing networks like the Kerry Public Participation Network, sporting organisations, local development companies and hundreds of community and voluntary groups across the county.
“The group wants to harness the energy and generosity of people who have come forward to offer support to people in the community who require assistance and advice,” Niamh O’Sullivan, Head of Kerry County Council’s Community Department, said.
“The aim is to ensure that a coordinated, safe and reliable volunteer support network is available to those in need and that people in need of that assistance know who to contact for advice. Our work will complement much of the voluntary work which already taking place in communities across Kerry.”
Hillary Scanlan, Community Work Manager with the HSE, added that there is a very long and proud history of voluntary and community activity in Kerry and also a strong commitment from the state agencies to work in partnership with communities to develop local responses to unmet need.
“The community and voluntary sector has again stepped up to respond to the current COVID-19 crisis and ensure that basic needs of food, fuel, and medications are being provided.”
Chief Superintendent Eileen Foster of the Kerry Garda Division said that an Garda Síochána is here to reassure and support the community during the weeks ahead.
“We are working with other agencies as one for the benefit of all.”
Included in the COVID-19 Kerry Community Response Forum are:
• Health Service Executive
• Kerry County Council
• An Garda Síochána
• Kerry Red Cross
• Kerry Civil Defence
• Kerry Volunteer Centre
• North East and West Kerry Development
• South Kerry Development Partnership
• IRD Duhallow
• Kerry GAA
• Kerry Public Participation Network (representing 700 approx. community groups in Kerry)
• Kerry Age Friendly Network
• Local Link Kerry
• St Vincent de Paul Society
• Kerry IFA
• Citizens Information Service
• Other community, voluntary and sports representatives
The Group came together to complement and reinforce the tremendous work already underway across the county as communities respond to the needs of the community and it aims to ensure that any gaps in existing provision can be addressed and coordinated centrally.
The group is asking members of the public to share the phone number with elderly or vulnerable neighbours.
PHONE: 1800 807 009
TEXT ‘SUPPORT’ and your NAME to 50555