#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

Welcome to Chapter Two of the Irish Examiner's #CoronavirusSolidarity diary.

Every week we will be highlighting for posterity those stories which capture the unique community spirit of Ireland's response to the ongoing crisis. Please let us know about community initiatives which have been set up to offer support to those most impacted by the crisis or examples of people who are going above and beyond the call of duty. Tag us at @irishexaminer and use #CoronavirusSolidarity.

Read Chapter One here.

Saturday, March 27

Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

Many businesses have been donating surplus Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to local hospitals.

Beauty salons, restaurants and nail bars that have closed due to the spread of Covid-19, have been giving their left over surgical masks and latex gloves to healthcare workers.

It is hoped that the donations will tide them over until the next delivery arrives from China on tomorrow.

Free support service for medics to expand

#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

A care and support service for health professionals who have mental-health issues, such as stress and anxiety, is to expand its offering in advance of the expected surge in Covid-19 cases and the resultant pressure it puts on frontline medics.

The Practitioner Health Matters Programme (PMPH) had its busiest year ever in 2019, since its launch in late 2015.

Its clinical lead said she is concerned about a likely increase in post-traumatic stress disorder among medics, once the current crisis has eased.

Dr Íde DeLargy, PMPH clinical lead, said, as yet, there has been no surge in people coming to them for assistance, but some people who had been under strain prior to the outbreak had since come to the service.

“We have had a number of people contact us who may have had issues prior to the Covid, but the Covid has pushed them over the edge,” Dr DeLargy said. 

That may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Friday, March 26

Irish companies have been rallying around to offer healthcare workers free coffee and snacks as a thank you for their work on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.

Soma Coffee Company in Cork took to their Instagram to announce that they will be delivering some coffee to the homes of healthcare workers.

Food and drink company, Bunalun Organic has donated 20,000 rice cake products to hospitals around the country.

Every little helps:

In support of healthcare workers and emergency services personnel, Tesco is introducing dedicated shopping hours in all stores pre-9am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Launching next Tuesday, 31st March, the first hours of trading will be set aside for healthcare workers meaning they will be the only customers in stores during this time to make their shopping trips easier.

Last week, Tesco introduced priority shopping hours for over 65s and family carers, an initiative which is working well and thank its customers who have respected these hours.

Virtual education hub to 'ease the burden on parents'

#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

A new cross-platform teaching tool has been created which is hoped to help parents home-school their children while primary schools remain closed.

RTÉ's new Home School Hub will run across its television and online platforms, providing primary school children with daily lessons from the comfort of their homes.

RTÉ and Macalla Teo, with support from Mary Immaculate College, collaborated to introduce a cross-platform teaching initiative on RTÉ2, RTÉ Player, and rte.ie/learn.

"Children are already facing increased disruption to their everyday lives due to school closures, cancelled activities and more but we are aiming to help children and parents cope during these times of uncertainty," said Suzanne Kelly, Group Head of Children's & Young People's Content.

#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

A new helpline has been launched to link up communities with people who are self isolation.

People can can now text 086 180 0256 or call 021 297 7809 between 9am and 9pm everyday.

It is been run by the Covid Community Response group, which is made up of more than 1,100 volunteers.

A call team will connect them with volunteers in their community who will step in and help out.

One of the organisers, Seamus Ó Fátharta, said it is a vital service.

He said: "It's community level support where people can get in touch and be it delivery of food, delivery of medication or whatever it may be if you're in isolation over the next couple of weeks.

"It\s very much based on low level community supports and making sure we don't leave anyone out there without food or medication or whatever other requests they need over the next couple of days."

Thursday, March 25

1,000 smartphones donated to isolated elderly people

One thousand smartphones have been donated to provide a lifeline to some of Ireland’s most vulnerable who may be isolated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vodafone Ireland donated the phones to charity Alone which will distribute them to elderly people in need.

The smartphones are pre-loaded with useful apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook and Spotify along with information about online food deliveries and other important phone numbers, including the ALONE national helpline.

-Liz Dunphy

Hundreds of health staff reregister to fight coronavirus

More than 600 healthcare workers have been restored to the national register in the last week to join the response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Some 500 nurses and more than 120 doctors have been added to the register in the wake of a national recruitment drive.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) insists that there is no delay in registration, despite a handful of complaints that some nurses returning from overseas were told they could be waiting up to 90 days for their registration to be completed.

Eoin English

Kevin O'Neill

Dublin Gym launch online classes for pugilists stuck at home

Headon Boxing academy had to close temporarily due to the coronavirus however the academy's owners got creative.

Twins, Sean and Paddy Headon, 25, started digital classes online for their members to work up a sweat from home. The programme features 40 online classes per week and requires no extra equipment except water bottles as weight substitutes.

Ciaran Sunderland

Online tool developed to help farmers who contract Covid-19

The hub will be updated regularly with farmer-specific, Covid-19 information on key issues such as Government unemployment and illness schemes, health and safety, banking and taxation. File picture.
The hub will be updated regularly with farmer-specific, Covid-19 information on key issues such as Government unemployment and illness schemes, health and safety, banking and taxation. File picture.

Farmers have been provided with an online tool to make it as easy as possible for someone else to run their farm in the event they contract Covid-19.

The 'Plan B' guidance document has been created by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and is designed to help farmers compile the essential information that would be needed if a farmer needed to bring someone else in to run their farm.

The ‘Plan B’ document is available to download from IFA’s newly-launched Covid-19 information hub on ifa.ie/COVID19.

Doctors answering Ireland's Call as part of Covid-19 Response

#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

121 doctors have re-joined the Register of Medical Practitioners with the Medical Council in little over a week.

This is in addition to doctors who are returning to practice or returning home to Ireland who remained on the Medical Council Register.

The Medical Council have revealed that 55% of these doctors are returning to Ireland and 45% are retired doctors re-joining the register.

Last week the Medical Council launched a dedicated pathway for doctors to re-join the Medical Council Register of Medical Practitioners as part of the national COVID-19 response with all registration fees being waived.

The Medical Council has also launched a dedicated COVID-19 webpage for doctors with useful information.

President of the Medical Council, Dr Rita Doyle, said “I am heartened to see the huge response we are seeing from colleagues who are coming out of retirement, returning to medical practice or returning home to Ireland in response to the national response to the challenges our country face with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Meanwhile, the Dail will today interrupt proceedings at 8pm for a round of applause for all Irish health care workers.

Cork web developer helps kids understand restrictions with online game

#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

Based in Ballincollig, multimedia firm Double Marvellous usually works in the realms of Wordpress and offbeat animation.

Rising to the occasion we find ourselves in, however, lead developer Barry English has developed a browser-based game specifically for kids, to help boost their understanding of the ongoing restrictions.

'Beat the Coronavirus' (pictured) is a short quiz game that allows kids to enter their own names, and explore the questions they'll doubtless have in a humourous fashion, as well as get the info they need to do their bit to allay the crisis.

Check the game out for free at Double Marvellous' website.

Wednesday, March 25

Barretstown launch live stream support for children affected by serious illness

A Co Kildare children’s charity has launched a new online interactive platform to support seriously ill children through the outbreak of Covid-19.

Barretstown had to postpone their camps with the outbreak of Covid-19. Picture: Emily Kerr
Barretstown had to postpone their camps with the outbreak of Covid-19. Picture: Emily Kerr

Barretstown offers free, specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness.

Families and children that were due to attend the camp in the coming weeks will instead participate from home. The programme titled: Barretstown Live will be broadcast every Saturday and will run for the foreseeable future.

Barretstown will also broadcast for children across Ireland through Facebook live broadcasts taking place every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm to 2pm.

- Ciarán Sunderland

Cork company will deliver essential supplies to vulnerable people

Elevare, the Irish-owned full-service facilities management company, has today launched a new Welfare Response service for those who may not be able to leave their home due to social distancing, self-isolation or childcare restrictions.

Elevare Welfare Service
Elevare Welfare Service

The new service will see Elevare deliver food and other essential items to vulnerable people in the Cork city region.

Currently, the company is offering this free service to SHARE, a charity which provides support and services to older people in the Cork community, as well as their 250 employees.

The control centre will co-ordinate requests with the company’s existing mobile response units making the drop-offs the next day.

The service will operate daily between 10 am and 4 pm.

Positive post

A care home in Cork has been inundated with mail after staff put out a call for messages to help "lift spirits" during the coronavirus outbreak.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place, residents at St Luke's Home in Mahon are no longer allowed to receive visitors, but after the home put out a message on social media, residents have received hundreds of letters, poems, drawings and cards from all over the world saying 'hello'.

From drawings to poems and even photographs, the letters have put smiles on both residents' and staff's faces during this difficult time.

They've even had to form a 'post committee’ of six residents to help sort through the mail and separate stamps for collecting.

Meals for the most vulnerable

A Cork kitchen has turned over its full capacity to producing low-cost meals to deliver to the city's most vulnerable.

Secret Recipes in Ballincollig have the means to prepare 10,000 portions per day and can be delivered to both the city and its surrounding area.

#CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

Speaking about the initiative on their website, the company said: "Secret Recipe understand the concern for the vulnerable in our community. We are lucky to have a modern multi-award-winning food production kitchen in Ballincollig.

"Given the situation that our community finds itself in we have turned our attention to supporting the vulnerable in our community."

There are currently two meal pack options:

  • A Vulnerable Citizens Meal Box: Seven lunches and seven dinners for €35
  • A Vulnerable Family Meal Box: Five main course and side dishes plus 10 portions of fresh soups for four people: €50
  • All meals use quality local ingredients.

    Customers can also donate any number of meals packs to Meals on Wheels, Age Action or St Vincent de Paul via the donation page.

    Tuesday, March 24

    Cork rugby stars swap tackle bags for shopping bags

    A rugby club in Cork are helping out in the local community after Covid-19 caused their season to end.

    #CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

    Like every other club on this island, Cork Constitution have seen activities curtailed but club president Kevin Fielding has been heartened by the community spirit being shown at the Temple Hill outfit.

    “Genuinely the focus of the club and club management over the past six or seven weeks has been on health and well-being,” Fielding said.

    “We have a lot of activities, even beyond the normal rugby activities that we’ve had to cancel or postpone.

    “Our U13s were going on a big trip abroad, to play in a tournament in Lisbon, Portugal and that’s had to be cancelled with huge financial ramifications but we have to manage our way through it.

    "An enormous effort went into organising that trip but we made the decision way before rugby was stopped that this wouldn’t be appropriate and while it was very disappointing for the kids and the coaches, it was the right thing to do.

    “We have a lot of meetings at the club and, for instance, the last Thursday of the month our retired members get together and that has been taken off the agenda.

    “But there is some positive stuff going on as well. Our entire J2 squad have volunteered to go out and deliver food and messages and whatever needs to be done for members around the club. That’s a real positive.

    “Guys are putting their rugby boots to one side and are trying to do something to help others.”

    Con’s AIL 1A rivals Clontarf have also been doing their bit, facilitating an initiative on Dublin’s northside whereby food and provisions supplied by businesses can be collected from the club in a contact-free environment.

    In Tipperary, Nenagh Ormond RFC have a phone number on their website for anyone in their community to contact if they need help or assistance with food shopping, pharmacy collections, or other help.

    “There are people in the club who will help you get through this crisis,” their message said, before adding “remember that your rugby community is here to support you in any way we can.”

    - Simon Lewis

    #CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

    ‘Extraordinary’ response to Twitter appeal for protective equipment for hospital staff

    A Cobh woman has been overwhelmed by “extraordinary” offers of shower caps, goggles and visors for healthcare staff at a Dublin hospital after she issued appeals for simple protective equipment on social media in recent days.

    Dublin-based Miriam Ahern, whose management consulting business has taken a hit because of the pandemic, took to Twitter to source safety equipment for hospital staff.

    The appeals were prompted by a conversation with a friend, currently working as a doctor at a Dublin hospital, who spoke of the need for protective wear for those responding to Covid-19.

    “It started with a suggestion that disposable shower caps could be useful for healthcare workers. So I put out a tweet on Saturday and couldn’t believe the response,” Miriam explained, adding the appeal resulted in 2,500 shower caps being offered to the hospital.

    Dublin comedians provide laughs for Irish Cancer Society

    #CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

    Dublin comedy club The Laughter Lounge is live-streaming a show it calls 'Laugh-o-dil Day', in aid of Irish Cancer Society, after the cancellation of the charity's Daffodil Day campaign, amid the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.

    Organisers said, "The Irish Cancer Society have had to cancel Daffodil Day, which is their biggest fundraiser of the year. We wanted to help and so, Laugh-odil Day was born."

    Appearing on the stream are some of the Laughter Lounge's resident comedians including Enya Martin, Danny O'Brien and Gar Murran.

    The show will stream live this Friday, 27th March at 8.30pm. A link to the stream costs €5, and all proceeds will go to the Irish Cancer Society, as they make up lost donation income from the Daffodil Day cancellations.

    Over €675k for Covid-19 causes on GoFundMe last week

    A massive €677,000 has been donated to Covid-19 GoFundMe causes in the last week.

    Some 20,000 people have supported a range of causes in the last seven days, with one in every two GoFundMe campaigns started in Ireland in the last week related to the virus outbreak.

    Among the most high-profile campaigns is Feed the Heroes, a campaign designed to raise money to buy food for healthcare workers, guards and other frontline staff, supported by the likes of Ireland football captain Seamus Coleman and his former Ireland international teammate Keith Andrews.

    There are now more than 200 Covid-19 campaigns in Ireland to support a range of causes, from support of charity events that were cancelled, funds to buy medical supplies or meals for the vulnerable in local communities.

    Fire & Rescue training group hand over premises to HSE

    Due to the Corona Virus the Chris Mee Group has announced the immediate and indefinite shutdown of its Fire and Rescue centre in Cork. The fire and rescue centre will remain closed for the duration of the emergency.

    The group have made the centre available immediately at no cost to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for their use during the emergency. The HSE are to shortly commence an assessment of the extensive buildings and yards in the facility to see how they may make use of it.

    “It is only by giving full support to the HSE and the emergency services at this time that we will defeat the coronavirus and save lives,” Chris Mee said.

    A licence for musical skills!

    Rockjam and Music Generation Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown have today released a new resource to teach children and young people to play ukulele through a series of free online video tutorials. The course offers young musicians of all levels of experience a chance to earn their ‘Ukulele Licence’ from the safety of their own homes, and while schools and music tuition services are temporarily closed.

    The primary goal of the initiative is to give children and young people free access to quality music education.

    The course, which is completely free to access and designed for all age groups, includes a series of easy-to-follow modules delivered by skilled professional musicians from the Rockjam team. Together there are a total of 8 modules and 40 tutorial videos on the Ukulele Licence YouTube Channel.

    There are no exams as part of the programme. The focus is on progress and self-learning.

    There is also a series of free pdf documents available to download for participants, which includes chord charts, information on strumming techniques and hints and tips for beginners, available at the Ukulele Licence website.

    Tell your self-isolation story

    Longtime local social media users may remember Humans of Cork, a page about people and their stories taken from the authors' travels and conversations around the city centre.

    While the project has long been on hiatus, one of its co-founders last night issued a call for online submissions, allowing people experiencing self-isolation to tell their stories, and articulate their feelings, to be shared anonymously with the page's tens of thousands of followers on social media.

    For more info on submissions, check out the embedded Facebook post below.

    Fun with science

    Dr Naomi Lavelle, has been putting mini scientists through their paces with a stream of daily experiments on her Instagram page (@sciencewows), designed to expand the mind and give everyone a break from reality.

    Music For Quarantine fund-raises for ALONE

    Dublin record label All City Records have released a compilation album online, showcasing the best in Irish and international electronic music, with all proceeds to ALONE, the outreach charity for the elderly in our communities.

    'Music for Quarantine Vol. 1 is available now on indie digital service Bandcamp, on a pay-what-you-can basis.

    Children's discos

    Cork's Stevie Grainger has put his DJing skill and collection of 10,000 records to good use over the last number of weeks by streaming live children’s discos through Twitch (www.twitch.tv/steviegcork).

    Here's his set from last Sunday, for Mother's Day, with a bit of chat/plugging beforehand:

    Watch Stevie Online kids disco Mother’s Day special from steviegcork on www.twitch.tv

    Story Time

    Cork-based comedian Laura O’Mahony knows what it’s like to be cooped up in a house with small children.

    The mother-of-two and co-host of children’s television show, Body Brothers, has teamed up with her four-year-old daughter, Polly, to read stories on Instagram (@lauralolslots) every night at 6pm.

    Monday, March 23

    Parking reserved for HSE staff at Cork shopping centre

    The HSE has been hard-pressed to keep up with the Covid-19 outbreak.

    The challenging conditions often mean staff are working long overtime hours.

    This can take its toll on many doctors and nurses. Happily, members of the public and businesses are doing their best to help.

    Dr Dearbhaile Collins, a consultant medical oncologist at Cork University Hospital was very pleased to see parking reserved for HSE staff at Wilton shopping centre.

    Last week the public widely condemned reports that hospital staff working overtime were being clamped.

    The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said: "Clamping nurses’ cars at hospitals is exceptionally unhelpful – especially during this crisis."

    Kildare town fly Spanish and Italian flags in solidarity

    In a gesture of international solidarity, Ballymore Eustace in Co Kildare have flown the Spanish and Italian national flags alongside Ireland's.

    The Kildare town made the decision to show solidarity with both European countries who have been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak so far.

    Italy recorded a smaller day-to-day increase in new coronavirus cases for the second straight day, officials said today.

    However, they warned it was too soon to know if the worst is behind the country with the world’s second-biggest caseload.

    Over 50,000 people sign up to coronavirus social media support groups

    #CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

    Over 50,000 people across Ireland have come together to join a coronavirus support group on Facebook.

    Many groups have been set up to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are taken care of during these unprecedented times.

    Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are being used to help elderly differently-abled and immunocompromised neighbours, friends, family and people who are unknown to others.

    • Davidstown/Courtnacuddy Coronavirus Support is a Facebook Group created to ensure every member of the community is supported during this time. The group helps organise deliveries of groceries, medicine and other essentials to anyone in need.
    • Ballsbridge Living has set up a WhatsApp Response Group to help elderly and vulnerable members of the community.
    • Dogs in Distress is using its Facebook Page to offer deliveries of pet food and toys to the elderly and vulnerable who have pets.
    • Murrough and Templemartin parishes are using Facebook Live to stream religious services into the homes of the faithful.
    • Bujo Burger Joint have made their business takeaway only using an ongoing Whatsapp Video Call to take customer orders while maintaining safe social distance.
    • Murray & Sons Coaches are using their Facebook Page to offer assistance to elderly and vulnerable people, who do not want to risk public transport, by bringing them to do their shopping or to attend medical appointments.
    • The Pet Get Away and Feed The Heroes are rallying around frontline health workers through Facebook and Instagram by raising awareness of the work that they do. Through their pages, they are calling out for donations of food, availability of childcare workers and offering free doggie daycare while the health workers work long shifts.

    Free tuition for Adults

    Is your education centre closed?

    The National Adult Literacy Agency are offering free over the phone tuition that can help adults with:

  • Reading, writing and spelling
  • Filling in forms, for example for social welfare benefit
  • Helping kids with homework
  • Understanding health information
  • Doing basic math
  • Using technology
  • “We know it’s a very difficult time at the moment, especially for the many people in Ireland who struggle with reading, writing and using everyday technology. That’s why we’re making our distance learning service, with tutors on the phone, available for anyone who wants help with reading and writing, for example understanding health information, helping kids with school work or filling out forms for social welfare benefit,” says Dr Inez Bailey, NALA CEO.

    Call Freephone 1800 20 20 65, or Text LEARN to 50050 to set up with one of their distance learning tutors.

    Coleman scores

    Irish footballer, Seamus Coleman has donated €20,000 to a fundraiser organised to help feed frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    #CoronavirusSolidarity diary: Businesses donate PPE to hospitals

    Feed The Heroes has raised over €300k since it was set up by Cian O'Flaherty on Sunday.

    "In one week we have dropped over 4000 meals to frontline workers in hospitals, ambulance centres, fire depots, garda stations, contact tracing centres nationwide," the campaign said in an update yesterday.

    "There is a lot more to come next week.

    "We have been utterly blown away by the response of the public, and the trust and responsiblity they are giving us to support the family, friends and loved ones they have on the front line. We have ramped up an operation and now have networks across the country."

    Forget me not

    "For the first time in 26 years we are not here to see you," read the note on a table full of flowers at Glasnevin Cemetery yesterday.

    Due to social distancing requirements, a florist, local to the well-known cemetery, was unable to open their shop so in a bid to put a smile of the faces of those who maybe visiting their Mother's graves, they decided to give flower away free of charge.

    "This filled my heart.There are no words," tweeted one touched passerby.

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