• Volunteering through the pandemic

    Volunteering through the pandemic

    Two 3Mers from Ireland have been volunteering with local organisations to support vulnerable members of the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    • Senior Marketing and Sales Support Coordinator, Elaine O’Connor, has been making up food parcels for homeless people in the Bray area on the outskirts of Dublin and Regional Clinical Specialist, Susan McGloin, joined a fund-raising effort to provide tablet computers to enable isolated elderly people in hospital to communicate with their loved ones.

      Elaine is part of a volunteer group called BARSS (Bray Area Rough Sleepers Support) that provides food, clothes, sleeping bags to local homeless people.

      She says: “During the pandemic, our services have been needed more than ever and we have been going out seven nights a week to distribute food bags and other essential items.

      “I have been volunteering, together with my children, for a few hours each week - working behind the scenes to prepare the food bags ready for distribution. We regularly switch roles within the group, taking our turn to collect donations, prepare the food bags and deliver these to rough sleepers.

      “The service is available 365 days a year and as well as practical items, provides a listening ear and comforting words; particularly important in these challenging times.”

      Susan got involved in her voluntary role through the local GAA (Gaelic Athletics Club) that her children attend. The parents regularly get together to organise fund-raising events and decided to do something to support the wider community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

      Says Susan: “As I work in the Healthcare business, I was very aware of the needs of older members in our society. We have a hospital within our community for older people and these patients were living in isolation, unable to have visitors and many with no means of communicating with their family and friends.

      “We decided to launch a fundraising event to finance the purchase of tablets for each unit, together with high speed wifi, so that the patients could video call their loved ones.”

      To raise the money, the club members challenged themselves to walk in miles to New York City and back, logging their daily activity in miles and making donations.

      Says Susan: “The fundraiser was a fantastic success. We completed the miles in under three weeks and as a result were able to donate four tablet computers with wifi to the director of nursing at the hospital.

      “We have been in touch since and were delighted to hear that the tablets have improved the quality of life for many patients. For example, one lady whose only son lives in China hadn’t seen him in over a year and now, because of this new technology, is able to ‘see’ and speak to him several times a week. The different units at the hospital also use the tablets to run joint remote social events and medical reviews.

      “As a club we were delighted to support this initiative and personally I am thrilled it has turned out to be such a success.”