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Hospital FRC supporting communities during COVID-19

Hospital FRC has been working with various organisations to keep the community thriving. Pictured above is Martha Potter of HFR delivering tea to Monica Hennessy of Hospital Community Meals on wheels to distribute to the elderly.

Hospital FRC supporting communities during COVID-19

By I Love Limerick Correspondent Sophia DiBattista

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Hospital FRC is continuing to help families and individuals in East County Limerick. 

The Hospital Family Resource Centre (FRC) is an organisation located in South East Limerick that is all about supporting people, families and various groups in the area. It operates on a volunteering basis, while also receiving funding from TULSA to keep their resources thriving. Hospital FRC is one of Ireland’s 121 family resource centres that provide national community development and family support programmes. 

One of the main challenges the organisation is facing is social distancing. The centre relies on social connections and physical interactions, but this will not stop the services nor the workers. All staff are continuing their work thanks to reorganisation efforts by the administration.

Hospital FRC’s food bank is maintaining its service as well. Their food provision and supply output has been at the centre’s focus since the COVID-19 outbreak. Over 200 packs of food have been delivered throughout the East Limerick area through the help of their volunteers, who are both cocooning and producing packages to be sent out. The small team of 9 staff members have been non-stop since the pandemic.

Hospital FRC

Food ready for packing into bags for home delivery, 200 bags packs along with wellbeing tips and information.

Besides the food deliveries, Hospital FRC has teamed up with Limerick CC and local gardai in relation to referrals and supporting Meals on Wheels with additional supplies for their clients. They have also provided ongoing links with their elderly members and adult learners who participate in their classes, supported by Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB). Even Facebook has provided the centre with more outreach possibilities, such as checking in with people and giving out information on their resources.

Mary McGrath, the centre manager, discussed the importance of having a support system saying, “In particular, we are finding at this time that family support is vital with the lockdown confining children and parents at home, shopping difficult, and pressures of homeschooling. Many parents feel bombarded with online resources and not everyone has access to online materials, printing facilities and the time to navigate the information overload, so staff are selecting, printing and delivering materials to help.”

“Parent Support Workers Phil and Michelle are busy researching and building art, craft and activity packs as well as tips for parents to help them during this time. Phone support and morale-boosting for parents from someone they know and trust is crucial. While 16 packs have already been distributed to members in the Hospital area, we are now widening this to all groups and hope to provide to wider age groups and areas to meet the huge demand. Families who were engaging in Hospital FRC Family Cookery programmes are now being supported through a family cookery programme with the Community Food Initiative and Ballyhoura Development Ltd. Offering families recipe kits – complete with ingredients so that they can make their own nutritious meals at home – extra special to have the food delivered with shopping so stressful for many families at present,” Mary said.

The centre has been working towards bettering people’s mental health as well. Mary said, “We also continue to offer support through the Social Health Education Programme (SHEP) with 8 participants meeting weekly. While our counselling team continue to support their clients remotely, we are also offering time-limited, one-to-one phone supports to help those experiencing heightened stress and anxiety due to COVID 19. This free support will help with tips and information on getting through the pandemic and minding yourself and those around you.”

In addition, children and parents will benefit from Hospital FRC’s work. Karen McCormack, the childcare manager, outlined the services available to families with the help of their My Time Afterschool programme. She said, “We here at My Time Afterschool service are very committed to ensuring the relationships we have with the children and their families are supported. We have set up an optional WhatsApp Group to parents, in direct response to feedback and used to share images of artwork and activities. We share our work with the children and they share theirs with us and their friends. We are ensuring no family is left feeling alone.”

Anyone in need of these resources is encouraged to contact Hospital FRC for more information.

For more on Hospital FRC, click here.

For more stories on Limerick’s COVID-19 efforts, click here.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.