AN IRISH organisation serving vulnerable members of the community in Stevenage is working hard to ensure they continue to provide them support while under lockdown.
Due to the ongoing battle against Covid-19 and the Government-imposed restrictions on movement, the Irish Network Stevenage (INS) is currently unable to provide the face-to-face services it usually offers its members.
But it is doing everything it can to ensure they remain in contact and supported, they confirmed this week.
“I want to reassure all our members and their families that we are still giving as much support as we can,” INS chairman Like Donovan said this week.
“Whilst we can’t offer the social interaction we did, we are keeping in contact with as many members as possible, through phone calls and via our social media.”
The charity, which was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in late 2019, was formed in late 2007 in response to an identified need that the level of support required by an ageing Irish population was increasing.
Today, amid an unprecedented health crisis, they are committed to continuing to support the elderly people who rely on them and urge everyone to do their bit to help.
“It is so important to reach out to each other right now and I encourage everyone to pick up the phone and call,” Mr Donovan said.
“It could be to a friend you knew years ago or someone you would normally see at one of our weekly events, I guarantee they will appreciate it.”
He added: “I have heard some fantastic stories from volunteers and members telling me about the amazing acts of kindness that they have witnessed and this fills me with pride and confidence.
“Pride in the good deeds my fellow residents are doing and confidence that together we will come out of this with a stronger community and a renewed faith in each other.”
Regarding the services the charity is currently able to offer, Mr Donovan explained: “Whilst we have had to close the office, the phone has been redirected to a mobile so we will receive any calls you make, do ring if you need anything.
“On behalf of all the Trustees and volunteers I urge you to keep safe and do ask for help if you need it, we are here for you, we will meet and conquer each challenge with the resilience and the strength that I know we all have.”
INS Vice Chair Peggy Lyons added: “We are making hundreds of calls each week and our members love hearing from our volunteers, it’s times like this when it is important to reach out to everyone and that is what we are trying to do.
“I have spoken to so many members over the last few weeks and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I don’t always get a chance to sit with them at our social events so this has given me a great opportunity to talk to them and find out what we can do to help”.
The key concern of the organisation is that their members understand the importance of looking after themselves while in isolation and keeping their minds and bodies active.
Among their suggestions for activities that can help are “keeping the brain active by reading, watching films or finding new knowledge on the internet” and “keeping a daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself”.
They also suggest trying new relaxation techniques and short periods of exercise, such as the gentle ten minute routines currently being offered online by Sport England which is aimed at keeping older people healthy and active during the coronavirus lockdown, which can be accessed here.