Watty Graham’s COVID response

Once lockdown was initiated in mid-March, Watty Graham’s implemented a community COVID-19 response team comprising of several dozen volunteers. A dedicated helpline number was immediately setup and in the space of 24 hours, thousands of flyers detailing this support information were delivered through the letterboxes of every home in the parish.

In the weeks that followed, club volunteers put the health and wellbeing of others above their own and answered hundreds of requests for assistance which consisted of delivering groceries, prescriptions, food parcels, post office runs and much more. Watty Graham’s also liaised closely with other local organisations such as SVDP, The LINK Centre and Mid-Ulster Council to ensure all sections of the local community were catered for and that food parcels and others requests for assistance were delivered in a prompt and discreet manner.

Funding was secured from the Community Foundation – COVID Fund which enabled Watty Graham’s to provide pre-cooked meals to many elderly local residents. In excess of 150 meals were provided by Kelly’s Eurospar and distributed on a bi-weekly basis by our senior footballers and Camogs. As well as providing much needed nourishment, these home visits by our young playing members also addressed the social isolation that many elderlies were experiencing during the pandemic.

Many other instances of good work from within our club happened during lockdown. Our senior playing members produced many videos containing drills for keeping our young people active and engaged. Organised training and playing moved from the field to virtual sessions which kept the youth engaged and regular zoom quizzes ensured that all club members stayed connected.

Another highlight was the Watty Graham’s litter pick. With the support of local councillor Brian McGuigan, approximately 200 club members of all ages came together and collected approximately 1.5 tonnes of rubbish on every road within the parish. The litter pick was deemed so successful, it was subsequently replicated by many other clubs and groupings throughout the county and beyond.

In these unprecedented times, Watty Graham’s GAA has stood tall when leadership was required. Support and assistance were provided to all who required it, regardless of affiliation.

Numerous notes of appreciation were subsequently received, many of which were not from a GAA background. Hopefully these new relations will stand the wider community well in the challenging times ahead.