b'LEITRIM CALLING The Pandemic PresentsOfcourse,duetoourlimitedocespace Going ForwardNew Challenges workingremotelywastheonlywayforwardfor usasaservice.Thisnecessitatedprovidingall We are obviously conscious and concerned with the When COVID-19 imploded into peoples lives involunteers(19atourhighestpeak)withmobile realization that this situation is not going to change earlyMarch,LeitrimCallingchangedovernightphones to carry out the phone calls. We needed toany time soon. People refer to it as a new normal. bothinthenecessitytomovetheservicetoa not only manage and support our now increasedWhile I consider it new, it is not normal. It will be remote model and to address the immediate increased client base, but we needed to provide additional a long time before our clients will feel condent to demandforoursupport.Localdaycentersand supports. We were in a daily situation of responding to return to centers which were so much part of their Active Age Groups across our counties had to close,dierent crises as they arose. When we realized thatlives and this is a sad reality. I see Leitrim Calling so clients from those centers were directed to ourthis was not a passing situation, we looked at our havingaverysignicantroleinsupportingourservice so that they would receive a phone call fromnancial situation. In addition to the extra workclients as they transition to whatever kind of future us to keep an interaction and a sense of connectioninmanagingourincreasedclientbasewealso lies ahead.with people who were now placed in a situationneeded to outlay costs (which we did not have) toIseeagreatneedfornancialsupporttoof fear, confusion and uncertainty. We were in a train the new additional volunteers and ensure thatenable us continue supporting our clients and our situation where we had no opportunity to plan, wethey could condently work remotely. volunteers.had to act immediately and respond. By now, ourWhile we are a much-valued service, we have The Ireland Funds COVID-19neverhadtheopportunitytoinvestmoneyinhours had extended, with call-backs for persons who were very frightened in how their lives had changedResponse service promotion other than through small local overnight. For some, our calls are literally the onlyadvertisements. It is a further source of gratitude on constantintermsofconnectednessthatpeopleAsCoordinatoroftheserviceIapproachedThe our behalf to The Ireland Funds to be aorded the have. Ireland Funds to enquire as to whether there wasopportunity to get our story out there to the widerany funding we could look to for support. I was re- audience.ceived with a great sense of empathy and interest Our service-user base has increasedthat we have, in fact, always experienced from ourThank Youovernight by60%and it is steadily rising.interactions with The Ireland Funds. Our concernswere listened to.Over the years, the support from The Ireland Funds Withinashorttime,TheIrelandFunds Our regular client base of85clientsteamrevertedtome.Wereceived3500fromenabledustotakeonadditionalvolunteersandprovide them with a very high standard of training overnight reached145 The Ireland Funds to support our identied needs.and upskilling as required.Throughout the process I found the team so helpful, Whenthepandemicenteredourlives,The courteousandsupportive.TheywerealwaysonIrelandFundswasthereforusitlistenedto Our weekly call output went fromhand to answer any questions we had and the entire ourworriesandwithitssupportandnancialapproximately350calls to over450 processresultinginthegrantreachingour assistance we were able to address our immediate account was carried out in a very timely manner. concerns i.e. the fact that our volunteer base trebledWe are extremely grateful for this support and for we were able to train our additional volunteers At these numbers we would estimateThe Ireland Funds, again, placing trust in us.andarenowtrainingmorevolunteerswhohaveannually a phone calling rate of overWe have trained our volunteers and trained replacedtheinitialgroupthathasreturnedtoadditional volunteers, as some of our initial teamcollegeorwork.Wearealsoabletomanage 23,000phone calls.had to return to their day jobs in September and weourincreasedclientbasejourneythroughthishave a very good support system in place to managedicult path by responding to the additional needsOurlocalGaelicAthleticAssociationsentoutour service-users. Some of our new (now permanent)for support that have arisen since COVID-19.a call on our behalf for local volunteers and the service-users who came to us due to the COVID-19We are exceptionally grateful to The Ireland responsewassoencouraging.Ourvolunteer pandemic have formed beautiful relationships withFundsyour support, assistance care and for your call-outwasrespondedtobystudents,teachers, our volunteers. They have built up a great trust ingenuine interest in our service.peoplewhosebusinesseshadclosed,Psycholo- our volunteers and in return our volunteers have gy students whose jobs were put on hold, parents gone above and beyond to be available and support-workinginthehomeandmanyothers.Itwas, ive to them.without doubt, very heartening. connect 202020'