Wednesday, 6 May 2020

UPU News : An Post supporting young and old in the pandemic

06.05.2020 - From activity books for children to daily visits for the elderly, Ireland’s An Post has been playing an important role in supporting the population whose freedom of movement has been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo: An Post
Many elderly people have found themselves cut off from their community and family because of the measures implemented to curb the pandemic. In Ireland, people over 70 years of age and those who are medically vulnerable to COVID-19 have been asked to stay at home under all circumstances for the past month.
An Post moved quickly to offer a valuable lifeline to this group. Within days of the cocooning announcement on March 27, the Post initiated a free check-in service from scratch, offering concerned family members the possibility to register their isolated relative for daily contact with postal delivery staff.
Postal workers are now routinely calling to the front doors of elderly and vulnerable people on their delivery route, particularly those who are living alone in isolated areas. An Post staff adhere to the social distancing guidelines during these visits.
The inspiration to set up the service came primarily from staff who felt there was an opportunity to reach out to those in need, according to An Post Public Affairs Manager Angus Laverty.
“The interaction is happening organically. The postmen and women will have a chat and make sure the person has everything they need. If there are any requests, we can feed them back to the county-based community support services set up by the local authorities.”
These support services include delivery of food, essential household items, fuel and medication as well as ensuring other medical or healthcare needs are met.
An Post has also set up a new daily newspaper delivery service in urban and rural areas during the COVID-19 crisis. Delivery is free for elderly and vulnerable customers who subscribe to their newspaper of choice through An Post.
“This has become a mental health issue, the social isolation has been very difficult for a lot of people,” Mr Laverty added.
To help this socially isolated group stay protected, delivery staff will also take away their outgoing mail and post it for free. Postal workers will apply a postal mark in the local mail centre before onward circulation.
The shutdown of the past seven weeks in Ireland has made it clear on a national level that the postal service is an essential service, and An Post’s contribution has generated much goodwill from the public. Parcel delivery volumes are at Christmas levels without any slowdown in sight.  
With schools closed, parents also need support to keep their children occupied at home. In partnership with Children’s Books Ireland, An Post swiftly published and distributed a 24-page activity book for the younger age group called “Imagine Nation”.
Where needed, An Post is also contributing to home delivery of free school meals to children living in disadvantaged communities.  
In addition, the postal operator delivered five million postage paid postcards to all households to encourage them to keep in touch with friends and family. The initiative captured the public imagination and people’s messages were widely featured on social media and on radio.
The UPU is working to track, highlight and analyze how Posts are connecting citizens with essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on how An Post organized the response to coronavirus behind the scenes, see the UPU commentary. To see how other Posts have contributed to their communities during the crisis or to submit a social or financial services initiative led by your Post, please visit the dedicated web page.

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