Mary Wright, Anne Keevey, Mary Mc Namara, Evelen Hennessy and Heather Evans pictured at the wonderful display of their work. Photographs: PJ Wright

Age Friendly Roscrea's beacon of hope with its corona legacies

Our memory of these coronavirus months will last with us for decades and will be talked about for centuries to come. We will debate whether we, as a nation, got it right. Were the lockdowns the right thing to do? Should the schools have been closed? Did the masks work? The pandemic has resulted in sadness, loneliness and loss for many people.

But, Age Friendly Roscrea (AFR) has been a beacon of hope for all in the town since the early days of the virus in March this year. AFR rallied volunteers to support its goody bag deliveries, organise phone call networking and regular check-ins with many of the older people living in the town.

AFR, working alongside the Gardaí, HSE, NTDC, local businesses, voluntary and sporting organisations have clearly demonstrated that ‘Coming Together, Whilst Staying Apart’ was, and is, the key to not merely surviving, but to thriving.

As a result, Roscrea will be exiting from the pandemic with many legacies, including those developed by Age Friendly Roscrea.

CORONA CHRISTMAS TREES

Visit the Roscrea Shopping Centre during the festive season to view the amazing crochet Christmas Trees that are standing tall and proud. These trees have been decorated in hundreds of crocheted squares. The ‘granny’ crochet squares each remember and honour special people, friends and family alive and deceased. The names of those we wish to remember will be attached to the tree. The squares have been lovingly crocheted by young and older people from every corner of Roscrea and as far afield as Canada and Australia.

It’s fair to say that the pandemic has changed all our lives. We are not free to do and go where we want to, and this is especially true of our family and friends, who are living in nursing homes. In Roscrea there are more than 120 people living in nursing homes around the town and they are really missing the broader engagement with friends, family and the wider community.

In recognition of the fact that the nursing home residents are very much part of our community and greatly missed, the TY students from Coláiste Phobal knitted and crocheted squares to hang on the tree for this group specifically. We all look forward to the days when we can return freely to the nursing homes again for tea, chat or a singalong.

The smallest tree, ‘The Baby Tree’ is covered in delicate whites, pinks, blues and little teddies. This tree will have a personal, profound and different meaning for each and every one of us, both as individuals, as a community and as a generation.

Roscrea’s tremendous community co-operation and spirit is reflected in this colourful, crocheted Christmas Tree project. The plan was to develop one tree, and now, over 2,000 squares later, we have four trees. This indicates the power of community spirit and working together - Roscrea people working together with a common Roscrea mission can achieve anything. It is this community spirit and co-operation that will be needed as we emerge from this pandemic and progress further towards implementing the Age Friendly Strategy for the town. The colourful, corona crocheted trees will stand long into the New Year to prove this spirit and determination is present in abundance.

SCHEME FOR OLDER ADULTS

Being able to connect online has kept so many of us sane over the last few months. Nothing beats real interaction with people, in real life. But in the pandemic we have often had to rely on Zoom to see friends and families, to attend meetings and appointments and to engage in education and training. Many older people are not familiar with technology, and we are absolutely delighted to announce that Age Friendly Roscrea has been selected as one of eight host sites for a pilot scheme for ‘Digital Connections for Older Adults’. As part of the scheme, ‘Acorn’ - an Age Friendly tablet device, will be available for older people to use. This device has been developed especially for people who are not familiar with modern technology, and it comes with a mobile data allowance.

Training for a number of champions has commenced and it is hoped, that with these devices and the appropriate level of support, our members can re-engage with their clubs, choirs, classes etc. There will be a nominal weekly cost to cover the mobile data and Age Friendly Roscrea has applied for further funding to expand the initial investment.

Anne Keevey, Chairperson and Founder Age Friendly Roscrea, said: “We would like to thank Tipperary Age Friendly, Tipperary PPN, South Tipperary Development Company and North Tipperary Development for supporting this initial pilot. We hope that further support from the HSE and Lotto will support further expansion of this project. The Covid-19 restrictions have actually made way for this exciting opportunity.”

ROSCREA DIGEST

The Roscrea Digest is an amazing read. With stories from the lockdown, almost 1,200 copies have now been distributed and posted to the four corners of the globe. At a cost of €5, this has to be the best value Christmas present ever. Below is some feedback from those who have been lucky enough to receive their copies:

‘The magazine has just arrived. What a superb job! I had no idea it would be so large, so comprehensive, so beautiful. I am truly proud to have been able to include my parents in it’ - from 'C', USA

‘I felt I was back in Granny’s kitchen listening to her telling her stories, I can’t wait to show it to my children to let them read about and appreciate their heritage’ - from 'JW' in Australia.

RAMBLING HOUSE AND ROSIE GREYS

There was an online Christmas Rambling house and Rosie Greys session before Christmas. This was hosted through the Age Friendly Roscrea Facebook page. There are limited copies of the Rosie Greys songbook available (€15) if you’d like to buy one to sing along at these events. Age Friendly Roscrea is making sure that social distancing doesn't mean social isolation.

DINNER DELIVERY SERVICE

This pandemic has highlighted the need for a dinner delivery service for older Roscrea citizens. Most towns and villages have such a service and, in fact, Roscrea had this service many years ago.

For the duration of the lockdown and since then local caterers, family, neighbours and friends provided and delivered meals to many, but this is a need that will expand as our older population grows and family and neighbours may be less available as they return to work etc.

When the opportunity arose to take advantage of the nearby Shinrone service, who were already providing meals to Mount Heaton, Coolderry, and Dromakeenan, Age Friendly Roscrea along with North Tipperary Development Company and Roscrea Lions Club undertook to pilot a service for a period of time to ascertain the need for, and the logistics of providing such a service. We are now well into this pilot scheme and dinners are delivered Monday, Wednesday and Friday to the immediate Roscrea area. If you would like to know more about this service please phone 0505 22550.

This is also the number you ring to enquire about a Senior Alert Personal Alarm or if you wish to know more about Age Friendly Roscrea.

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