The New Vulnerable
A response to Covid-19 in Carlow
There is no doubt that the history books will include a chapter on COVID 19 and it’s impact on all of us, individuals, and communities alike. There is also no doubt that, while we may all have faced our own particular challenges, that none have been more adversely impacted than those experiencing social isolation and disadvantage, those already living in poverty, and those who are vulnerable because of age, physical or mental health, a disability or difficulty accessing supports.
The pandemic has laid bare the tremendous needs within our communities, including the hidden poverty, uncertain rental tenancy, dependency on school initiatives such as breakfast clubs and afterschool services and and in many cases a lack of information and/or capacity to source help or advocate on their own behalf.
Through our work in the community and the experiences of other agencies, we were aware of the increased level of poverty in Carlow town and county, families in particular were struggling, particularly around food poverty and accessing services. We recognised that while we wanted to assist we were conscious not to create a level of dependency.
In March 2020, we brought all of our multi-sector knowledge and experience to bear when designing a client centred response to COVID 19. We knew the scale and scope of a response that we could sustain, and knew we were not in a position, for example, to provide food parcels every week. Working closely with our in-house team who have successfully delivered Healthy Eating to community groups, we developed the ‘Family Box’ based on Safefood Ireland’s 101 Square Meal Book. Our goal was to provide a family with the majority of ingredients to make nourishing and tasty meals – all that would have to be added was fresh meat, dairy and fruit and veg. Each box contained over 50 items including a selection of herbs and spices, cider vinegar, cooking oil, soy sauce, rice, pasta, chopped tomatoes, jars of tomato sauces, curry sauces, curry paste, mayonnaise, ketchup, beans, corn, food mixes, soups, chicken and beef Bisto, tea, coffee, sugar, porridge, cereals, pasta, rice, spaghetti, fruit cordial, water, crackers, biscuits, tuna, etc.
Crucially, to build capacity and resilience as part of our COVID 19 response, we also delivered on-line cookery classes to make family meals using the ingredients provided for in the box. The on-line cookery classes proved extremely popular.
A key outcome from this strand of our COVID 19 response is the number of marginalised families now empowered and upskilled to choose healthy eating options and minimise if not eliminate food poverty. An unexpected outcome is the support we received from food producers – since the Carlow Farmers Market reopened after the first lockdown the traders have provided us with fresh fruit and vegetables, chutney and sauces, meat and fish, bread and cakes every Saturday.
food and grocery items sourced, packed and delivered
Art and Activity packs prepared, packed and delivered to families across the county
family boxes prepared and delivered
Thanks so much for staying in touch. We really appreciate it and it is great that we know we can call you if we are in need of help. Keep safe and well.
Joe and Peggy,
For further information on our response to COVID 19 please e-mail Annette Fox