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IRISH RED CROSS AND AGE ACTION WELCOME FUNDRAISING BOOST TO OVERSUBSCRIBED HARDSHIP FUND

Published 22/04/2020

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The Irish Red Cross and Age Action today welcomed RTÉ correspondent Fergal Bowers’ COVAID initiative as a huge boost to their Hardship Fund. Reporting an unprecedented level of interest in the fund, they said the fund would otherwise struggle to meet the level of need being expressed.

The Hardship Fund, which was set up in a partnership with the Irish Red Cross and Age Action, was put in place to help older, vulnerable people who had been experiencing additional financial burden due to the Covid-19 crisis. Over €25,000 from the fund has already been allocated to applicants.

The fund identified real needs experienced by vulnerable older people, which resulted in both organisations receiving thousands of inquiries – with an unexpected surge last weekend. However, while previous applications are still in the process of being assessed, the fund will now close to new applicants at 5pm on Friday 24th April. All applications and expressions of interest received before this date will be processed and reviewed (please see below FAQ).

Speaking of the Fund, Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross, Liam O’Dwyer, said,

“There has been significant interest in the Hardship Fund, and we are heartened by additional funding through the COVIDAID initiative, which was launched this week. These funds will enable as many of the applicants as possible to receive support. Irish Red Cross members are working on the ground with isolated, older, vulnerable people in their communities and see the real value this Hardship Fund can bring.

CEO of Age Action, Paddy Connolly said,

“Early on in the crisis we asked Government to consider a once-off pension top-up for those solely dependent on the state pension. Fuel costs, repair of crucial appliances such as fridges, boilers, and communication devices are vital, and these are the primary focus of the fund. The demand for these tells us that the Government needs to do more for older people struggling as a result of Covd-19.”

The Irish Red Cross and Age Action will continue to fundraise for the Hardship Fund, but, as the limited discretionary fund has been significantly oversubscribed, all future monies raised will go to ensuring that the needs of as many previous applicants as possible have been met.

All proceeds from the recently launched charity single COVIDAID www.covidaidireland.ie, will go toward the Hardship Fund’s applicants.

 

HARDSHIP FUND FAQ

What is the Hardship Fund?

The Irish Red Cross & Age Action Ireland launched a COVID-19 Hardship Fund in March to respond to the immediate needs of older people in vulnerable situations across Ireland who are experiencing additional hardship as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis.     

How can I apply?

For all the details regarding how to apply for the hardship fund, CLICK HERE

Who can apply for the Hardship Fund?

Older people over the age of 65 who are in need of assistance, or individual advocates of older people. Note: In order for an application to be processed the signature and contact details such as name, address, date of birth and banking details of the older people must be on the application for verification.

What Can I apply for?

Any practical needs arising from additional costs that have arisen from Covid-19. Examples would be higher heating costs, food delivery, storage costs, communication support costs to connect with loved ones. Note: applications will be strengthened when a detailed cost breakdown is provided. 

I, or the person I am applying for, don’t have a bank account, what happens if I am successful?

Our preferred method is to transfer any monies awarded directly into the applicant’s bank account. In extreme circumstances, we will send out a cheque to the applicant at their home address.

We have sent an email to the hardship fund email address and haven’t received a reply. What shall we do?

We have received an extremely high volume of email and phone inquiries, especially since the 18th of April. We will get back to each email and phone query as soon as possible. At this stage, we are expecting a wait time of up to 14 days for email inquiries.

 When is the closing date for the Hardship Fund?

We have been inundated with demand for the Hardship Fund. Due to the volume of applications received, we are bringing the closing date forward to 5pm Friday 24th of April, 2020.

We have asked for a physical form to be sent out via email. What happens now with the date being brought forward?

We will not be receiving any more new applications from 5:01 pm Friday, 24th of April. However, any queries (telephone, email & postal) and pending applications will be reviewed and processed accordingly.

How would you know if my application or inquiry is open or pending?

If you have sent the Irish Red Cross an email or left a phone message about the Hardship Fund before 5pm 24th of April 2020, we will classify this as an open query.

How do I know if my application will be accepted?

We have started putting a sticker on physical applications being mailed out from 21/4/2020. It is important that you use the prepaid envelope with the sticker attached in order for your application to be accepted after the closing date OR if you are an open query.

If you have a timestamp dated 24th of April on your envelope, we will still accept this.

When will I make contact with Age Action or the Irish Red Cross about the Hardship Fund?

We understand there are questions about the Hardship Fund. As you can imagine, we have a large backlog of calls. The best way to contact the Irish Red Cross or Age Action Ireland is by sending us an email on hardship2020@redcross.ie. 

We advise not to call the Irish Red Cross or Age Action Ireland as we would like to open our phones to people inquiring about our other services. 

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Age Action is calling for a Digital Allowance to support the Digital Inclusion of Older People and a Study on the Cost of Ageing in Budget 2021

(30 July 2020) 

Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation on ageing and older people is calling for Budget 2021 to include a digital allowance in the form of a €2.50 increase to the Telephone Support Allowance and a broadening of the eligibility criteria to support older people to access digital technology.

Paddy Connolly, CEO Age Action said ‘Digital exclusion is a reality for at least 33% of people over the age of 65 with the associated cost being one of the barriers to access for older people. We know that communication costs have increased during COVID-19 as people became more reliant on digital communications as a means of communicating with family, health professionals, arranging essential services and addressing social isolation.  In the context of an increasing reliance on telehealth measures and public health advice, Age Action urges the Government to increase the Telephone Support Allowance, introduced in June 2018 at a weekly rate of €2.50, to €5 and for a broadening of the eligibility criteria which is narrowly confined to those getting the Living Alone Allowance who are also eligible for the Fuel Allowance.’

Government services now actively prefer transactions to be digital under a “Digital First”approach, encouraging people to carry out their tax returns, and apply to r enew their driving licences and passports online. The Public Service ICT Strategy prioritises the digitisation of ‘the main existing citizen and business transactional services across Public Services’. There is an increasing reliance on digital channels to provide information by both the public and private sector which undermines people’s ability to access information which was very evident during the height of the pandemic. In a recent CSO survey of households of those over 60 and not online, the second greatest challenge to people who said they needed access to broadband, after lack of digital skills, was the perceived prohibitive cost.

‘Older people are being left behind because they do not have adequate access or skills to engage with digital services or participate in the digital economy; providing a digital allowance as well as investing in one-to-one digital literacy training that meets the needs of older people, is critical to bridging the digital divide. The new National Digital Skills Strategy committed to under the Programme for Government will have budgetary implications; Budget 2021 should begin to support older people to keep up’ Connolly said.