by Charmain Jones
A specially commissioned guest article.
About the In This Together project
The Rural Community Network (RCN), who are core funded by the Community Relations Council, is delivering a special digital project during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In This Together – Rural Communities, Rural Connections” showcases local groups helping and supporting their communities. The project is led by Charmain Jones from RCN.
Slowly coming out of lockdown
Now we are slowly coming out of lockdown, Rural Community Network have continued to collect stories of those working hard and tirelessly in rural communities to continue to assist rural dwellers who need further assistance and also provide support as we start to come back into a new normal. Some rural people are still shielding, others still afraid of leaving their home, and others trying to now reintegrate into society whilst taking precautions and being mindful of their own health and the health of others.
This week we feature the efforts of those who are in the formal education sector, local community groups in Rathfriland and Moneydig and the efforts of Orange Lodges across the region.
It is just amazing to see the continued efforts of these local volunteers during this pandemic and how they have and continue to rise to the challenges in what are still uncertain times.
St Pius X College
St Pius X College, Magherafelt has to be commended as one of a number of Post Primary schools in the Mid Ulster area that has been involved in manufacturing of face visors.
At the very start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a huge shortage of PPE in all sectors of the Health Service. Local schools were contacted to see if they could help and in a very short space of time, Technology Departments were sharing drawings to be used in manufacturing of face visors. Plastic, acetate sheets, elastic and foam were all needed to help make the visors. Most of the visors were sent to Ballymena for distribution throughout the North, but were also donated to local care homes and doctors’ surgeries in Antrim, Tyrone, Armagh and Derry, who were struggling to acquire PPE. All the recipients were extremely grateful, as the visors enabled them to perform their vital work while keeping themselves, their patients and their own families safe.
Community Help Rathfriland
A facebook page was set up by a local lady called "Community Help Rathfriland" which initially gave out information leaflets and window stickers for the elderly and vulnerable and soon developed into offering recreational activities, food parcels, offering mental health support as well as projects included an Easter egg drop, community quilt, poetry competition, letter to Boris Johnston, baking pack, quiz pack, jigsaw exchange, family DVD pack, postman/woman appreciation pack, and armed services pack… The list was endless.
Moneydig Rural Network
Moneydig Rural Network, an organisation that has and continues to be a shining beacon of rural community development, acted immediately and offered similar services to Community Help Rathfriland and offered food and warm packs, delivering up to 100 boxes per week, as well as setting up a food and hygiene store, and also providing hospital care packs, assistance with benefits and helping to set up new groups in new areas where help was needed.
Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland provided RCN with clear examples of where local orange lodges were making an impact at a grass roots level, through donations to local hospitals, care homes, providing PPE, providing food parcels to those in need as well as offering online exhibitions for people to view at home. This activity took place on a regional basis and within border communities.
We really are all in this together
As we start to move out of lockdown, the gallant efforts of rural communities cannot be underestimated, how rural volunteers have pulled together to help those most in need definitely is at the heart of the statement "We really are all in this together."
RCN is funded by the Community Relations Council’s core funding scheme. Learn more about our core funding scheme.
Read more about RCN’s In This together project here: http://www.ruralcommunitynetwork.org/programmes/programmes.aspx?id=11(external link opens in a new window / tab