A Guide to Sensible Volunteering in the Covid-19 Era – Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald

A constantly appearing thread in the tapestry of advice around dealing effectively with the Covid-19 Virus has been, and still is, to get the advice you need from reliable sources.

Many social media operators and keyboard warriors are peddling the dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi style of commentary and spreading misinformation and fear.

Because Ballymacelligott has a well established community alert system and because Cllr. Fionnán Fitzgerald has been deeply involved in its success, he’s well versed in the day to day business of community security and the ethics of local volunteerism.

Even so, Cllr. Fitzgerald’s awareness of the different and more dangerous era we’re now operating in prompted him to reach out this week to the Department of Rural and Community Development and, by extension, the HSE for guidelines for volunteers and how they can keep themselves and the people they help healthy and safe.

Cllr. Fitzgerald asked that the leaflet’s bank of valuable information would be shared with the public.

The leaflet recommendations are as follows:

Volunteers Safety should be your number one priority and make sure you have the safeguards in place to protect you while you carry out your role.

Please follow the guidelines on the HSE website or if in doubt ask at your local volunteer centre.

Some simple steps to sensible volunteering:

Only volunteer if you are well enough to do so.

 Do not volunteer if you have travelled outside Ireland in the last 14 days.

Always follow the HSE guidelines for hand washing, sneezing/coughing and practice social distancing.

 Do not call to a vulnerable person’s door unannounced. Please consider dropping a note in their letterbox with a name and number for them to contact.

 If you are asked to help, take these steps to limit contact:

Do not enter a home unless absolutely necessary. Dropping off shopping / prescription etc. can be left at the door and simply call to let them know.

Remember to keep social distancing in mind, always keep a space of two meters apart between you and the person.

If you are volunteering for a vulnerable person with an underlying condition please remember their immune systems may be weakened, making it harder to fight infections.

Please follow the key messages from the HSE:

Wash hands thoroughly and as often as possible  Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces   Practice social distancing and coordinate with others to limit the number of visits  Refill their prescriptions and make sure that they have over the counter medicines and supplies for example, tissues and thermometer.

For People Receiving Assistance

Safety should be your number one priority and if you are in need of help please contact a trusted source or neighbour.

Please Remember:

Do not answer the door to someone you don’t know  Do not shake hands with anyone.

Do not let anyone into your home unless it is absolutely necessary.

 Do not give your bank details to anyone that you do not know or trust

Always ask for identification if someone calls to your door from an organisation, if in doubt call the organisation to verify details.

If you are offered help and are not comfortable please contact the Garda Síochána on 999 or a recognised helpline if you need support.

Advice for Vulnerable People

If you are a vulnerable person with an underlying condition and receiving assistance, please follow the key messages from the HSE:

Wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Have prescriptions filled and over the counter medicines supplies.  Do not allow more than two visitors at a time.