Minister Donohoe & Localise Youth Volunteers take action to help alleviate isolation in nursing and care homes in Dublin’s North Inner City

4th June, 2020

Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, and World Boxing Champion, Kellie Harrington, today (Thursday) attended the post-acute community unit of the Mater Hospital, Dublin 3, for the official hand over of laptops filled with messages to residents from young people.

Thirty laptops were donated by Dublin City Council so that Localise Youth Volunteers could connect remotely with isolated elderly and vulnerable residents in nursing and care facilities in Dublin’s North Inner City.  These laptops were loaded with messages and will also be used as way for young people to continue to connect with residents remotely.  Three of the laptops will be put to good use immediately as they are going to the community units of the Mater Hospital.

Regrettably, COVID-19 has had a hugely negative impact on nursing homes and care facilities with elderly and vulnerable residents unable to see family or friends for months.  The impact of the loss of friends, not being able to see loved ones and the isolation, for many, has been devastating. 

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, visiting the Fairview Community Unit of St Vincent’s Hospital today said; ‘This initiative by Localise goes to the heart of the community spirit that is so evident during this difficult time. It also highlights the role technology is playing in helping us to adapt to our new environments.  By bringing young volunteers to our elderly citizens in this most innovative way we can help restore an element of what has been sorely  missing for both groups in a small way. I’d like to thank Localise, their volunteers and Katie for recognizing the importance of keeping our younger and older citizens connected and what that means for quality of life and general well-being.’

Derek Cleary, Localise’s Director said “The virus has segregated our elderly and vulnerable, and we believe that if young people don’t reach out now and support them we risk losing intergenerational connectivity, which amounts to a travesty for a cohesive society.” 

Localise Youth Volunteering in response to the issue, have developed online meaningful ‘socially distant’ volunteering opportunities and solutions for young people to work with isolated and vulnerable people, aiming to tackle an emerging intergenerational connectivity crisis. 

The way young people volunteer to help the elderly and vulnerable may have changed, but Localise young volunteers are still making a real difference in their community through their innovative response programme.  These young people (aged 14-19yrs) have delivered on-line messages of love, support and joy. They have entertained with songs, cooking lessons and chats as well as designing and delivering fun and engaging quizzes.

Since lockdown Localise have worked with over 200 young people and have developed and delivered practical projects to over 2,000 isolated and vulnerable people (nursing homes & Cheshire Ireland).

Building upon the success of this programme Localise then partnered with Dublin City Council with the plan to deliver 30 laptops to local nursing homes and care facilities in the North Dublin region so that they can expand their remote youth volunteering programmes.

The impact of these programmes to date means that young people are engaged in meaningful activities, making a difference locally, contributing and giving back to society, maintaining intergenerational connectivity while crucially uplifting the wellbeing of those isolated/in need.         

The next phase for Localise is to secure at least an additional 70 laptops/tablets to reach nursing homes and care facilities across the county.  This changing world has disproportionately affected young and older people, having significant impacts on their interactions together.

“We don’t know what the ‘norm’ will be in the future but we do know that we want young people to belong and to be contributing members of society through volunteering. One of our goals is to ensure that intergenerational connections are sustained through volunteering.” Derek Cleary, Localise.