This week we speak to Eugene Donnelly for our #memberinfocus feature: “The Challenges and Opportunities of 2020”.
Q1. If you could describe the year 2020 in one word, what would it be?
Q2. What was happening in your life when the pandemic struck?
Work was ticking along as normal and personally we were coming to the final stages of adopting our daughter which involved all getting pushed back when the pandemic struck. We had planned two family holidays (nothing massive just fun things for the 4 of us – visiting family in England and a week in Spain) – one in March and the other in June as we had not been able to leave the country during the adoption process which lasted over 2 years. Again, we have been fortunate that none of us or anyone we personally know got ill and we recently got the money back for the trips so we are better off than many.
Q3. Why and when did you decide to get involved with community-based support?
The company I work for has a mix of staff in various roles some of which could work from home easily while others could do very little at home so it was decided we could put the manpower, vehicles and financial backing from the company to good use at the challenging time for many. Project management is part of my day to day so I offered to help manage certain aspects of our efforts which started with providing our staff to charities who needed volunteers, shopping support for those isolating and has grown into providing ongoing support in the wider community for the past 5 months.
I registered with the COVID-19 Community Support as a volunteer at the end of March once I heard about how it was bringing people willing to help together with those in need. Through the ‘Community Calling’ service, I have been able to do shopping runs for isolating families and have provided items of PPE to those in need.
Q4. What is the biggest challenge you have faced since the world went into lockdown?
The biggest challenge I have faced since going into lockdown is juggling normal work, coordinating our volunteering efforts as well as my own and maintaining a healthy balance with family.
I truly am in awe at how much Sarah has been able to do getting the original service up and going at such strengths so quickly, the results speak for themselves but the effort and time that went into making it happen is a credit to her and the team she has built.
While my wife was furloughed like many when her work had to close, I was fortunate that my employer kept everyone on full, uninterrupted pay. This was in part due to many being able to work from home but also to assist staff who could otherwise have found themselves in difficulty. This was huge for us as a family and meant while we had to cut back we were never in fear of not making the mortgage or putting food on the table – this truly was amazing and something I really appreciate.
Q5. Are you excited about any opportunities that have arisen this year?
I’m excited for one of the community services I have setup and am managing through work as it continues to grow. We are helping all sections of the community, feedback has been amazing and it is something I am proud of.
Q6. How are things looking for the remainder of 2020?
Things are looking precarious at the moment with the recent rise in cases. My main fear is around schools – it will be hard to manage the children’s safety but we need our kids in school to keep the economic situation from getting worse and not least for their education and mental health!
On a more hopeful note I’m looking forward to were this service goes and what the dedicated team of volunteers being assembled can do in the coming months and into the future.