In ordinary times Sligo Lend a Hand volunteers are available  to give a short term dig out to community members who live alone, may be recuperating after an illness or for whatever reason find themselves a little more vulnerable than usual. The onset of Covid did not change this. Yes, some existing volunteers were in the vulnerable category but in line with government advice the group were well placed to continue a service.

Early on the group registered with Sligo Community Response team and through the Muintir na Tire connection established a link with Alone National Helpline. Having existing connections with many community organisations and Service providers proved very beneficial towards meeting the variety of needs of callers to the service. There was the usual shopping , prescription collection, ready meals for those not on any provider list, chirruping smoke alarms and fuel requests in the basic needs category.

As the weeks went by the grass cutting became a worry.  Hospital discharges where maybe a grab rail was required and no tradespeople working, a stair rail, toiletries and personal care items for people who found themselves detained in hospital with no visiting allowed…  Sligo Lend a Hand could help with most requests. More importantly for may was connecting to services … how to get Meals on Wheels, refer for a Friendly call or make an application for a personal alarm.

The group Facebook page updated daily with different initiatives that could be taken on board by individuals and community groups to maintain connection, Call a cocooner or Tea at 3 across the garden fence. Listening to our callers we in Sligo Lend a Hand realized how hard it was for everyone to continue social distancing and cocooning, particularly for those who had little friends who would be looking forward to a visit from grandparents and the Easter Bunny. LIDL Sligo very generously helped our Easter Bunny with a delivery of some chicks and we decided to ask our service users and social media contacts to nominate worthy recipients. Was there someone you knew that had made a special effort to make your Cocooning easier? Or was there someone in your life who was making a great effort to stay apart to stay safe? Sligo Lend a Hand Bunny arranged a delivery twelve very worthy recipients being mindful of 2 Km distance from either of Lidl Sligo stores. To make it even more special each delivery came with a personal message of encouragement and thanks.

Sligo Lend A Hand during the lockdown continued to collect Food Cloud donations from Lidl stores. Surplus items are available to signed up charities for distribution to worthy recipients. While there is no guarantee of availability the donations stretch the service user’s regular income to afford a nonregular expense. In this regard thanks to local Lidl managers who pulled together a once off trolley of everyday essentials.

As the months passed and mask wearing was mentioned two cocooning volunteers got busy with needles and scissors to build a supply. Thanks to Sligo Co Council COVID Emergency fund grant support for purchase of fabric and for a donation of visors and sanitizing products for use during call outs.

The work continues. The group is currently planning to embark on a project to digitally connect individuals throughout the county to reduce threats to health and wellbeing as a response to communication  difficulties encountered during the lockdown period.


Vanessa Clarke  Sligo Lend a Hand   087 1776386