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900 'ordinary heroes' register as emergency coronavirus staff to give lifeline to those in need after charity appeal

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Dan Donnelly

Dan Donnelly

Dan Donnelly

HUNDREDS of people have answered calls looking for emergency coronavirus staff after an appeal by charities for the homeless and disabled.

The Crisis Cover initiative is run by Quality Matters, with charities Depaul, Novas, DublinSimon, Walk, Sophia Housing, Respond, the Salvation Army and HSE.

It issued an appeal last month for “ordinary heroes” with relevant experience that would assist in caring for the vulnerable.

Caroline Gardener, co-founder of Quality Matters, an organisation that helps other charities provide essential services, said Crisis Cover had since had more than 900 people register with the service, all with different areas of expertise and from varying backgrounds.

“We have people from the Oireachtas, therapists, accountants, business people, students and migrants and so the span across professions and socio-economic backgrounds is huge,” she told Independent.ie.

“The idea came when we looked at where our partners are all at and we noticed a lack of staff as being a really huge issue that could result in closure of services.

“We set this up as an insurance policy so that wouldn’t happen. That policy is now being called on as we’re facing up to 25 requests for staff a day.

“We are working with the HSE as a partner and with around eight services in Northern Ireland and 12 service partners in the Republic.”

Among the applicants is Dan Donnelly (34), from Dundrum, south Dublin, a self-employed lighting technician.

He has been left without work since Covid-19 hit Ireland but signed up to Crisis Cover as a way to keep busy and help services under strain.

“I found Crisis Cover after I had just posted on social media saying my calendar had been cleared and I was looking to do something,” he said.

“I can remember being on the dole when I was a lot younger and it being a tough time from a mental-health perspective and for my self-worth.

“I remember questioning things like, ‘What’s the point of getting out of bed today?’. Although I feel very grateful for the welfare provided in this country, I wanted to take part in a social project that would help people that need it.

“I have experience as a special needs assistant in a secondary school so they linked me up with a community project called Walk, which is devoted to working with young adults with intellectual disabilities.

“The training I’ve been doing at the moment is all related to highlighting the vulnerability of people with intellectual disabilities, ways for us to safeguard them emotionally.

Ms Gardener said those registering with the initiative would receive training before being deployed into service. She said recruits would be tasked with helping those providing one-to-one support.

“The people with relevant qualifications and experience will be doing the real kind of one-to-one support work but those who sign up are there to help,” she said.

“They are assistance or support workers. So they’ll be doing things like answering phones, cleaning equipment, making sure people have what they need.

“They might be speaking with people, answering the phones, that kind of thing.”

Those looking to participatecan sign up at crisiscover.ie.

Online Editors