As doctors ask the people of Cork to double down on public health guidelines with cases of COVID-19 again on the rise, Cork City Council has launched a new initiative that aims to promote social distancing and help protect vulnerable members of the community from COVID-19.

1,000 social distancing blue vests will be distributed across Cork City through various community centres and community groups. The blue vests will allow people with an underlying condition or who had been cocooning to get out and about, while reminding others to respect social distancing guidelines.

The idea came about through the COVID-19 Community Response Forum in Mahon, just one of the 16 community response groups set up by Cork City Council with the HSE and partners in response to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Feedback received from people cocooning as they came back out into communities when restrictions eased indicated that that they were very nervous and felt that people weren’t giving them enough space. The purpose of the vests is to indicate clearly that the person is asking others to keep their two-metre distance.

Following a pilot of the initiative in Knocknaheeny and Mahon, the blue vests are now available through local community centres (listed below) and a further 250 blue vests will also be distributed through the Friendly Call programme.

Family members of people who are still cocooning will also find the vests very useful in terms of indicating to others that they need to keep their distance in order to decrease the risk of bringing COVID-19 back into the family home.

Sandra O’Meara of Cork City Council’s Community Section said:

The Blue Vests initiative for Cork City came about as a creative response to people’s fears and anxieties about COVID-19 when out and about. The distinctive Blue Vests simply act as a reminder to passers-by to respect social distance.

This makes all the difference for people with underlying illnesses or after a period of cocooning, who need their exercise but want to remain safe.

Blue vests are available from the following community centres and organisations:

  • Gurranabraher and City North West: Youthwork Ireland, The Hut Community Centre – 021 – 439 9862
  • Mayfield and City North East: Newbury House Family Centre – 021 – 450 7999
  • Mahon and City South East: Mahon Community Development Project – 021 4359070
  • Ballyphehane/Togher and City South East: Ballyphehane Togher Community Development Project – 021 4319085
  • Ballincollig and surrounds in City West: Westgate Foundation, Ballincollig – 021 487 3648
  • Glanmire and surrounds in City East: Glanmire Area Community Association – 021 482 1333
  • Alternatively, contact Cork City Council on [email protected] Please note that the vests are available on a first-come first-served basis.

Notes:

  • The Cork City Community Response Forum was formed as a response to COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020. Cork City was broken into 16 local area teams with a Cork City Council community worker and a HSE community worker in each area who work with local champions – namely the existing voluntary organisations and groups who know their locality and can help us to match need with service delivery.  Each of the 16 local areas also has a link to Community Garda Services.
  • A dedicated Community Call helpline is still available from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on 1800-222-226. Support can also be accessed via [email protected].
  • The phone line is just one aspect of the Forum’s work.  Its core aim, as part of the Community Call, is contributing to the community-wide effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring a co-ordinated community response.  The City Council’s COVID-19 CRF works to ensure that local resources – including social care support and social contact – are targeted at the people who need them most.

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