Longford County Council, In This Together

Longford County Council, In This Together

Press Release - 24th April 2020


The spread of COVID-19 is a new and challenging event.  Everyone's lives and daily routines are affected by the measures that have been introduced to disrupt the spread of the virus and keep us all safe.   It is normal to be worried or to feel stressed during this difficult time, but there are many things we can do to help us mind our mental health and wellbeing.

A Government campaign, called In This Together, which aims to help the public stay physically fit and mentally fit, was launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Children's Minister Katherine Zappone on Friday, 24th April.  The campaign aims to help everyone in Ireland to Stay Connected, Stay Active, and look after their Mental Health throughout the COVID-19 Emergency.

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Paddy Mahon, Chief Executive of Longford County Council, explained “We are very aware that COVID-19 has multiple consequences in the short, medium and long term.  At the core of the crisis is individual, community and national wellbeing, the immediate physical health and wellbeing of our people being the primary and urgent concern.  Wellbeing in a more general sense will come into focus as the crisis evolves and its consequences become apparent.”

The Campaign encourages everyone to set a new daily activity which helps them to feel a little healthier or a little happier as we deal with Covid-19.  It signposts useful advice to help people of every age group to cope with the ongoing restrictions, whether they are looking after children, dealing with self-isolation, preparing for the Leaving Cert, or coping with cabin fever. 

Paddy Mahon, as Chair of the COVID-19 Longford Community Response Forum, said “The COVID-19 Longford Community Response Forum members will work together to develop initiatives to support the In This Together campaign by way of local activation under three main themes. 

  • Stay Connected
  • Stay Active
  • Mental Health

The focus will be on helping people maintain physical and mental wellbeing, eat and exercise properly, cope with existing disabilities and illnesses, alleviate stress and cope with anxiety arising from the direct and indirect effects of COVID- 19.”

Barbara Heslin, Director of Services, said “In This Together draws together a huge range of activities that you can pursue in your home or your locality, by yourself or with family members or with friends online.  There are ideas and activities for people of all ages with lots of advice and tips on how you can look after your mental wellbeing, stay active and stay connected.

Longford County Council is already offering a wide range of activities and resources which will support In This Together.”

Just some highlights include:

Stay Connected

  • Stay Connected - access the Library’s free online resources including eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers and online learning and language courses.
  • Buddy Network– building a network to encourage older people to stay in touch with each other, for a chat, through regular phone contact.
  • Community Connect – Civil Defence deliver books and food parcels and visit vulnerable people to check they are OK.
  • Spring into Storytime – celebrate the importance of families reading together and sharing stories as Library staff narrate your favourite books online.

Stay Active

  • Active at Home – create your own gym using everyday items, set weekly routines, challenges and targets while focusing on fun activities.
  • Explore your Garden – ideas for young and old including flower arranging, container gardens and meeting the little creatures who live there.
  • Sports Ambassadors –ideas to keep active, fit and healthy for all ages and abilities from local sports clubs and individuals.
    Active Home Week – encouraging children and young people to take up the challenge to build physical activity in to their day.

Mental Health

  • Building Resilience – advice from a local psychologist on building resilience, minding your mental health and coping with isolation.
  • Love your Home Photography Competition for Cocooners - encouraging people to be creative while staying within 2km of where they live.
  • Household Hero – children create their own mythical pandemic character together with an online scrapbook recording their experiences during COVID-19.
  • Healthy Eating – rediscover a love of cooking, try out new recipes, share your favourite recipes and get hints and tips on healthy eating from the experts.

Gerard Farrell, Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, complimented the work of the Local Authority, Forum members, the resources centres, businesses, individuals and many community, voluntary, religious and sporting organisations who are actively involved in the community support effort throughout Longford.  He said, “By working together, staying connected, building resilience and being active we will meet the challenges presented by COVID-19 and make it through together.”

Wellbeing initiatives right across Government are being collated and that information can be easily found on https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/together/

Longford County Council will post regular updates on our website www.longfordcoco.ie and through social media.


Paddy Mahon said, “It is the Council’s mission to work with our communities and partners to develop Longford as a dynamic, vibrant, safe and prosperous county, celebrating its diversity, culture and heritage and, through strong leadership, build safe, healthy and sustainable communities.  We will continue to connect with our people and place during these very challenging times to create opportunities and initiatives to address physical and mental wellbeing issues within our communities.”

Gerard Farrell concluded by saying “These are unprecedented times.  However, we are all in this together and the Council is here to help and support citizens and communities.  In partnership with all the other organisations and agencies involved in the COVID-19 Longford Community Response Forum, we will continue to work together to promote personal and collective wellbeing and resilience by keeping our population active, healthy, informed and socially engaged as the crisis develops and evolves.”

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Longford County Council has lots to offer as part of ‘In This Together’ campaign


Stay Connected

Longford County Council, conscious of the challenges faced by individuals in adapting to and coping with some of the public health measures, has used the power of social media and the strength of our connection with communities to keep in contact with our citizens. 

Mary Reynolds, County Librarian, outlined some of the innovative initiatives introduced by Longford County Council to ensure we stay connected.  These include:

  • A buddy system has been developed through the Age Friendly Alliance to encourage older people to connect with others on a regular basis for a chat.
  • Housing staff are phoning vulnerable tenants to enquire as to their needs and find out how they are coping while cocooning.  Any questions they might have on maintenance or rent issues are discussed and they are provided with the Community Call helpline number if they require shopping, prescriptions or fuel delivered.
  • Longford County Council continues to provide factual advice and guidance together with links to trusted sources of information to communities, volunteers, citizens and older people through our website and social media.
    The Council has developed publicly accessible maps of the COVID-19 related responses, activities and services available to people in their areas.  The interactive maps include local services, providing supports in relation to the delivery of shopping, medications and fuel.
  • The Library team are providing important support to the Community Call helpdesk by updating their list of community contacts, using the library text messaging service for regular communications with older people and contacting all service providers, e.g. Family Resource Centres, Active Retirement groups, Longford Volunteer Centre, Men’s Sheds, etc.  They are also connecting with library and cultural customers through the online services and supporting artists, writers and storytellers by encouraging them to bring their skills online.
  • Longford County Council’s Library Service is promoting ebooks and other online services.  The Library Service is also assisting people in accessing all our free online resources including eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers and online learning and language courses.
  • A book delivery service for housebound people is being rolled out, facilitated and supported by library staff, Civil Defence and local volunteers.
  • Spring into Storytime is a national storytime initiative celebrating the importance of families reading together and sharing stories.  This year, it has moved online with storytime sessions available online thanks to cooperation between local library services and Irish publishers.  Longford County Council is participating in this wonderful initiative and broadcasting live and recorded storytime sessions on social media.
  • Civil Defence volunteers are calling to visit vulnerable people to check they are ok, how they are coping with cocooning and isolation and to make sure they know who to contact if they have any concerns.
  • Nestle Foods are providing supplies of foods and water nationwide through the Irish Red Cross.  Product categories range from coffee, water, confectionery, cereals, noodles and pet food.  Civil Defence volunteers are collaborating with and assisting Forum members in distributing these food parcels throughout Longford.
  • A programme of events for children, including how to be creative from your own garden, creative mindfulness for young families and lots of arts and crafts competitions, are being posted online.
  • Longford County Council’s Heritage and Archives services continue to update social media with information relating to the Decade of Centenaries, historical events and information on biodiversity.
  • Our Tourism Office posts photos, features and updates from our beautiful county, reminding us of the attractions and facilities on our doorstep which will be there to enjoy when these challenging times pass.

Stay Active

Recognising the importance of keeping physical wellbeing, Longford County Council, through our social media platforms, provides innovative ways for people to keep fit, healthy and active during these unprecedented times.  Longford Sports Partnership shares daily social media posts and online resources with links to various physical activities, challenges and workouts that can be completed at home.  Creative videos and video conferencing tools are used to run classes, helping people to stay active at home. 

Sarah Mulligan, Longford Sports Partnership Coordinator, provided some examples of the creative ways to stay fit and active, including:

  • Exercise and fitness at home workouts tailored to the needs and level of different groups of people, using everyday items found around the family home, are posted online.
  • Physical activity challenges are set each week focusing on fun activities involving different forms of movement that people can do at home. 
  • Profiles of our Longford Sports Bursary recipients will provide positive advice for people on how to cope during the current crisis.  The profile outlines what they are doing to stay active, healthy and fit and will include videos of their favourite workouts.  It will also celebrate their sporting involvement and achievements.
  • Because not everyone has online access, Longford Sports Partnership will be running a four week programme, in collaboration with the Longford Leader, to identify ambassadors in our community and find out what they recommend to encourage people to stay fit and active.
  • Active School Week takes place every April this year.  This year we are asking schools to encourage families to participate in the Active Home Week challenge instead.  The Active Home Week challenge will take place from 27th April to 3rd May.  The concept of #ActiveHomeWeek is to: reach out to parents/guardians/carers to support the work that is taking place in their school; raise awareness about the fact that young people and children need, at least, 60 minutes of physical activity every day; support parents by providing them with ideas and a challenge format to encourage children and young people to build physical activity into their day; encourage children and young people to find new ways of being physically active that they enjoy.  Check out www.longfordsports.ie for further details and social media for daily challenges.
  • Twice weekly online meetings for morning walking and jogging groups are being arranged where participants follow the Morning Movers programme.  Participants join the group online for a warm up with some mobility and stretching, they then walk, jog or run for a set period of time within their 2K distance and come back to the group for cool down and some stretching and advice.  The programme is gradual and will be aimed at increasing people’s fitness over a number of weeks.
  • Sporting and physical activity clubs and groups in Longford are being profiled each week.  The profile outlines how they are coping in the current situation and advice on things to do in the current lockdown.  It is an opportunity to celebrate their history, their members, their activities, the benefits for members involvement, some of their achievements and how they cater for new members.
  • Longford County Council’s Heritage Officer, in collaboration with horticulturalist Brendan Farrell of Ardagh Village Landscapes, is providing a series of tutorials for developing gardens.  Links are also provided to other information sources which have an educational element including ideas on nature activities and more tips to keep little ones occupied.
  • Works under the National Biodiversity Action Plan Fund are being adapted from group workshops to working with Longford Environmental Alliance on providing video tutorials.  The Council has already published two videos with Ardagh Eco Villages on Gardening for Biodiversity with ideas for container gardens.  Two more in this series are to be published next week.  It is also hoped to develop videos for wetlands and wildlife for Biodiversity Week, as well as some wildflower projects.

Mental Health

Looking after your mental and physical health during these challenging times is very important. Ciaran Murphy, Senior Executive Officer, Community Development, outlined some of the supporting initiatives introduced by Longford County Council to help people mind their mental health, including:

  • In collaboration with the Longford Leader, the Council launched Love your Home Photography Competition for Cocooners.  Together with Longford Age Friendly Alliance we are encouraging people to be creative while staying within 2km of where they live.  We are asking people to send in a photograph of whatever makes them happy while social distancing; this can be a place, a person, a pet, a new hobby, their garden, or even their favourite book.  An exhibition of a selection of the photographs will go on display in the library when the current COVID-19 crisis is over so that we can all come together and celebrate what helped us get through this very challenging time.
  • Flower arranging, including how to create a beautiful springtime arrangement, using tulips and plants that you can find in your garden or on your walk is being posted weekly.
  • Beginners online coding classes for children with Siobhan Grealy are commencing this week.
  • As part of Cruinniú, Creative Ireland Longford has commissioned two young Longford creatives to start an online scrapbook project called Household Hero where children can put their photos and drawings of things they have learned in isolation, non-personal routine diary entry of day to day feelings about what is happening.  They will create their own mythical pandemic character who is living through this time and imagine the future after this is over.  As part of this it is hoped to produce a short film/documentary on Longford children’s experience of COVID-19.
  • Longford County Council is promoting a thought for the day which is posted online.
  • Under Healthy Ireland, the Library service commissioned Paul Marsden, workplace psychologist, to do a weekly video for social media in which he shares daily tips on building resilience, relaxation, etc. 
  • Information on healthy eating is promoted on our social media pages with advice and ideas on cooking healthy meals at home.  The Library staff are also posting their favourite recipes and encouraging people to send in their favourite recipes.  Fiona Egan is also going to start her Cooking with Fiona demonstrations from Loughan Farm beginning next week.
  • The Arts Office is currently developing a programme for rollout out over the coming weeks recognising the important role of the arts and creativity in personal and collective wellbeing.

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