It is imperative that the new government re-establish a once-off grant in cooperation with Age Action Ireland and the Irish Red Cross to assist vulnerable elderly people during the pandemic.
In April of this year, Age Action Ireland, in cooperation with the Irish Red Cross, launched the Covid-19 Hardship Fund. This was an excellent idea aiming to provide a once-off support for the elderly to purchase necessary resources for their physical and mental well-being during the pandemic.
Over 21,000 applications were received. With €103,000 fundraised, only 453 applications were granted. This was not the fault of either Age Action Ireland or the Irish Red Cross. They petitioned the Department of Social Protection to provide assistance in meeting this demand. It is a disgrace that these calls were ignored and instead many vulnerable elderly people were left with no additional financial support during this difficult time.
I have spoken with representatives from Age Action Ireland and they have expressed their deep frustration at this. Many of these applications were from people who relied on external supports, such as day-care centres which are still not open while others required technology to assist in maintaining social and familial relationships.
Samaritans Ireland revealed that, in April, they agreed an MOU with Alone as many Alone volunteers were feeling “overwhelmed by the levels of emotional distress” expressed by callers. It was also revealed that from the 9th March – 28th June ALONE has received 25,291 calls from older people and made 119,079 calls.
Elderly people are most at risk from this virus. For too long now, they have been overlooked and discarded by governments and now they are suffering in isolation. We need to lend a helping hand to this vulnerable cohort and support this once-off payment.