Work goes on Keeping Laois people well during the Covid-19 lockdown

Laois ‘Keep Well’ campaign has essential services and initiatives to help keep the community connected during Covid-19 pandemic restrictions

Leinster Express Reporter

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coronavirus covid-19

Portlaoise Library staff, Celine Coughlan and Erika Lewis packing books into boxes as part of the Delivery Service for the elderly or medically vulnerable and cocooning at home.

As we move out of winter and into spring, Laois County Council continues to implement and deliver the ‘Keep Well’ campaign as part of the Government Plan for Living with COVID-19: Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021.

The ‘Keep Well’ campaign builds on the ‘In this Together’ 2020 campaign and aims to support people and communities in being resilient through minding their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Laois County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Catherine Fitzgerald acknowledges the profound impact the outbreak of COVID-19 has on all.

“I am delighted to be associated with the Laois ‘Keep Well’ campaign which highlights the important role that individual and community resilience in Laois plays in contributing to our ongoing response to this global pandemic.

"Most people's lives have changed over the last year; their routines have been affected by the outbreak in different ways. We are all adapting to the 'new normal' and many of us are experiencing fatigue.

"With a particular focus on keeping people mentally, physically and creatively active during the period of restrictions, the Council and its partners have devised a wide range of projects and initiatives to support the 'Keep Well' campaign,” she said.

She encourages everyone to engage in Laois’s ‘Keep Well’ programme of activities.

“There are an abundance of these and other activities to engage and entertain young and old. Be sure to stay connected to Laois County Council social media pages to keep up to date on the activity programme,” she said.

David Murphy, Age Friendly Coordinator, LCC Community section responding to calls on the Laois Community Call helpline.

Some of this work includes:
- From Music Generation Laois's intergenerational music project – 'Musical Memories';
- Laois and Offaly Heritage offices – 'In Your nature' Podcast series;
- Youth Work Ireland Laois's 'Online FIFA21 Tournament' for young people run by the Council's Sports Office;
- 'Splashing into Spring' online competition, the Environment Awareness Office Craft and upcycle online programme;
- Laois County Library's mental health and mindfulness online programme;
- Annie's Holland's video and photography COVID-19 engagement project with older people;
- Broadcaster, Ann Marie Kelly's six-episode podcast series of frank conversations with young Laois people dealing with adversity.

Laois County Library Service also has a number of upcoming free mental health and mindfulness online events.

Emma O'Connor, A/Assistant Staff Officer, LCC Community section responding to calls on the Laois Community Call helpline.

These include: ‘

- Making Working from Home Work’ with Sarah Reynolds’ from Organised Chaos, on Tuesday, March 23, from 7.30-8.30pm on how to organise and work more efficiently from home;
- A Mindfulness workshop for adults with MBSR Teacher (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) Patricia Kavanagh on Saturday March 20, 11am-12.30pm. Booking is essential for both these events at mountmellicklibrary@laoiscoco.ie or call 057 8644572.

The Laois County Library Delivery Service continues to be a vital facility for the elderly or medically vulnerable and cocooning at home.

For your peace of mind this service is contactless and designed to comply with HSE guidelines. Library staff will select items according to your preference - books, audiobooks, magazines or DVDs, and members of Volunteer Laois will then make arrangements to deliver these items to your doorstep.

All items are on long loan, there are no overdue fines or fees and access to this service is free. This service also includes care packages and the Library Activity Booklet. Contact your local library branch or phone Portlaoise Library 057 8622333 or email: laoislibrary@laoiscoco.ie.

The Heritage Office of Laois County Council aims to help get people connected with nature, as part of the “Keep Well” Campaign with an online Gardening for Biodiversity workshop which took place on February 18th with award-winning author

Juanita Browne for the relaunch of her ‘Gardening for Biodiversity’ book and partner publication with wildlife information for children and colouring pages featuring the beautiful illustrations from the original book by Barry Reynolds.

The Gardening for Biodiversity workshop had 131 peak live viewers and has had over 3.7k views on Laois Heritage Forum Facebook since Feb 18th. With over 500 books distributed to date, the book and colouring book are still available for free from

Laois County Council, by emailing heritage@laoiscoco.ie and also available to download at www.laois.ie/heritage.
In addition, the Laois and Offaly Heritage Offices launched a new free nature podcast ‘In Your Nature’ in partnership with BirdWatch Ireland.

Rose Doolin, Assistant Staff Officer, LCC Community section responding to calls on the Laois Community Call helpline.

The podcast has had over 1,700 downloads so far, is at no. 18 in iTunes overall podcast charts, and no. 1 in Science pods. Episode 3 of the series will be available week of March 15th on all leading podcast providers, including Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts.

Each week a new episode will be marked by a series of ‘In your Nature Challenges’ and for more information go to Laois Heritage Forum social media. To enter each challenge, submit to Laois Heritage Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages, using the hashtag #InYourNature with a photo, a drawing, a video, even a piece of writing, showing or describing your adventure.

A prize will be awarded each week.

Isolation of people of all ages is a significant risk during the pandemic, particularly during periods of tight restrictions on movement and social interaction.

The Laois Community Response Support helpline was introduced in 2020 to provide practical supports and information sharing.

As part of the ‘Keep Well’ campaign, the Laois helpline and recently launched ‘Check-In’ initiative are particularly proactive in encouraging outreach to potentially isolated persons during this time. The Check-In cards are being dropped off (a non-contact check-in) to older and isolated people across the county by registered Laois Public Participation Network members throughout March.

The Laois Community Call helpline can be accessed Monday to Friday on 1800 832 010 between the hours of 9am and 5pm, or by emailing covidsupport@laoiscoco.ie. It is for non-emergency and non-medical calls and this free and confidential service is focused on ensuring that vulnerable members of our community or those living alone can access deliveries of groceries, medicine and fuels, and social support and advice.

The ‘Keep Well’ campaign is brought to you with thanks to Healthy Ireland an initiative of the Government of Ireland with funding from the Healthy Ireland Fund and the Sláintecare Fund delivered by Pobal, administered by Laois County Council.

For more information on the campaign, go to laois.ie/keep-well. #KeepWell.

Bridie Keenan, Assistant Arts Officer, Arts Office responding to calls on the Laois Community Call helpline.