Armoy Community Association

Gerry Burns from Armoy Community Association writes of how the local area is coping in this pandemic and William McMullan tells of the activities that have taken place.
 
 
 

What actions have taken place at a local level?
When the situation of Coronavirus became severe in March we created the Armoy Community Coronavirus Support Group. With this group we developed information leaflets with clear information on hygiene, isolation and points of contact in regards to health in line with PHA guidelines, along with the support we can offer in terms of phone calls, shopping, food and meals. We distributed these to all homes in Armoy and surrounding areas. We put a call out for volunteer support and a simple form to complete for those who required support. We were overwhelmed with the response from the community wanting to step up with 36 volunteers signing up to offer support. We:
  • Matched volunteers with phone calls to socially isolated people, giving them a call to check up on them weekly and helping support with concerns they were having.
  • Implemented a shopping service for people who couldn’t get out, matching a volunteer to each individual.
  • Created a meals service to older and vulnerable people in the community; we ran this for 11 weeks and delivered over 1050 meals.
  • Partnered with the local foodbank to deliver boxes of food to people in the community in need.
  • Delivered over 200 Easter treats to children in the Armoy area and Easter crafts
  • Gave out shopping vouchers to families to help ease the burden of increased food costs at home.
  • Delivered Men’s group activity packs for NACN.
  • Created activity packs for adults with learning disabilities
  • Organised an online talent show for the young people in Armoy with activity gift packs for each participant.
  • Youtube science experiment and learning videos created by one of our volunteers.
How do you feel adversity has brought communities together (either within or between)?
We had recently taken part in a PB project which created a buzz in the community that we never had experienced before, this was a few weeks before lockdown and we feel this project showed the true community spirit there was in Armoy which sowed the seed for the interest in local level support. Local level support is very important and something people can resonate with, and a sense of we all look out for each other. Previously when arranging past events with requiring volunteer support, it was the same faces every time with new faces rarely offering support. The PB project and the Coronavirus support group allowed people to get involved as it was something new for everyone and an opportunity for new ideas, new beginnings and an opening for some to join where they previously hadn’t.

What are the challenges to your work?
One of the main challenges we have faced is the lack of financial resources to implement meaningful work in the community, small pots of money have been fantastic for one off items and projects, what we need is for more long term funding to make a deeper impact in the community. Another challenge is reaching out to everyone, there is still an element of pride among people who require support but are reluctant to reach out. This current situation has eased that a little as it was a situation in which every household was affected in some way regardless of income.

What are your hopes for the future?
Our hopes are that the great sense of community felt during this time continues and that new volunteers who supported the Association with their efforts will continue to be involved in new initiatives and activities we arrange to support our community coming out of lockdown.

We are involved in a Community Spirit framework with Royal Society for Public Health, and we aim to devise a community with a high community spirit that all feel valued and play an important role in the community they live in.