Avondhu Blackwater Partnership, the Leader Partnership for the Fermoy, Mallow and Blarney areas of North Cork, is linking with the local community reps to provide vital services for the most isolated people.
The partnership now provides over 40 door-to-door public transport services that collect people of all ages from their door and drop them to their destination, usually the nearest town or indeed Cork city. 500 people in the area are now regular users of the bus services every week with another 500 occasional users. Most of the services are fully accessible for people with mobility difficulties. The services are public transport services open to everyone and are mainly funded by the Department of Transport as part of the National Rural Transport programme.
The partnership also provides an innovative telephone befriending and handyman service as part of a project called Blackwater Community Connect funded by the Department of Social Protection. Almost 700 isolated people receive a friendly phone call once or twice every week. As well as combating loneliness, the callers also remind people about appointments and refer people to other services which are available and which many of the isolated people may not be aware of or may need assistance in filling in applications forms for. The handyman service was developed to ensure that vulnerable people can access this trustworthy service instead of being tempted to use the services of possible bogus callers in rural areas. The handyman carries out a range of tasks which might be just beyond the ability of the people themselves such as minor plumbing and fitting locks and smoke alarms. The handyman will refer people on to a trustworthy tradesman if required for more detailed work such as electrical or plumbing repairs. Blackwater Community Connect also organise for isolated people to complete basic computer courses so people can learn to send e-mails or use Skype to talk free of charge over the internet to their family and friends. This gives isolated people a huge sense of connection to society, particularly with Skype as they can for example talk to and see their children or grandchildren on the computer screen, who may be living abroad or in a different county in Ireland.
During the cold spell of 2009 and early 2010, Avondhu Blackwater Partnership put an emergency contingency plan in place for isolated people. Rural Transport was provide for people who couldn’t access their own vehicles. People who normally travel on the transport services, but were afraid to do so in the severe weather, were contacted for their shopping lists and provisions and prescriptions were dropped to their door. The partnership recruited local volunteers with 4 wheel drive vehicles and linked with local meals on wheels groups to ensure that meals were distributed to people who were house bound. Avondhu Blackwater Partnership is currently putting this contingency plan in place for this winter and has already dropped provisions to some people in the Dripsey area who were unable to get out. We are looking for volunteers all over the rural hinterlands of Fermoy, Mallow and Blarney to help us help others less able in real practical ways this winter so if you are interested in volunteering in any way, if you have a 4×4 vehicle, or if you or someone you know are in danger of becoming cut off from accessing essential services this winter, please contact Avondhu Blackwater on 025-33411 during office hours, or in emergency contact Damien Tobin on 087-9711606 or Mary Allen on 085-1068789.
For more information on Avondhu Blackwater Partnership,The Rural Transport Programme and Blackwater Community Connect, visit our webpage at www.avondhublackwater.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up to date news on events, courses and other funding opportunities!