A Cork village has rallied to help to keep one of Ireland’s silent services on the road.
Dozens of volunteers, including many who have lost their jobs in recent days, have signed up to ensure that the operation of Blarney’s Meals on Wheels continues to deliver hot meals to the elderly and other vulnerable people in the world-famous tourist village in Co Cork.
Many of those who run the Meals on Wheels service normally are now unable to do so because of the coronavirus outbreak. However, some of the new volunteers say that does not mean the service can stop. In fact, the opposite is the case: it is more important than ever.
“We’re basically taking over the running of this vital service from those who would normally do it,” said volunteer Kate Durrant.
“Many of the people who would run this service would be classed in the ‘vulnerable’ category — older people who are now being advised to stay at home.
“They are vulnerable ones now and so the next generation has stepped in to fill that gap. We are picking up the slack.”
Members of the GAA club have volunteered to help with the cause.
So too have a number of businesses, including hotels, bars and restaurants.
Despite many of them being badly hit by the virus outbreak, they have also stepped up to ensure no-one goes hungry.
The owners of the Blarney Castle Hotel, Ian and Una Forrest, who closed their business on Sunday night because of the Covid-19 outbreak, have opened their kitchens for the Meals and Wheels group.
Their experienced chefs, Margaret O’Sullivan and Margaret O’Carroll, came in on their own time yesterday to prepare and cook meals before volunteers set off on the food-run around 12pm.
Mr Forrest said having to close the hotel at the start of the tourist season was difficult but had to be done and now it’s important to help in whatever way possible.
“Everybody has to do their bit,” he said.
Across the village square, The Muskerry Arms has agreed to cook meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for collection or delivery to frontline healthcare workers, retail workers, or others in the community who may need a good meal.
Several other restaurants and pubs have also donated food and other stock after being forced to close.
“We are showing that as a community, we can pull together through this,” Ms Durrant said.
“We need people to reach out, both for help and to help us.
“It’s not easy to ask for help but these are not normal times.
“And who knows, we might even get a whole new generation of volunteers for what is often considered a silent service.”