Throughout the COVID-19 health pandemic, there have been many examples of our communities responding to the exceptional circumstances to help those in need. Here, Camowen Outreach Group shares its story.

In our community during the COVID-19 pandemic we have endeavoured to maintain communication per regular telecommunication links, emails, and Facebook Live. The latter has been, and continues to be, a twice weekly Reflection at a fixed time (8.00pm) on Wednesdays and Sundays. The number of viewers who leave the footprint of their views and/or comments has been very encouraging. We have also had an online quiz in mid-May which attracted a large participatory audience. So much so that we intend to repeat this venture further down the line. Besides all this, we have volunteers who are willing to assist the housebound with shopping errands and medical pickups. A very much appreciated highlight has been the weekly bell-ringing in both our parish churches in respect and appreciation of the dedication of the work carried out by the members of the NHS and all other frontline workers. This has seen neighbours come together with applause, and even with instrumental accompaniment on pipes, drums, bodhrans to name a few.

For many this has been a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature and to see its beauty in a new way through the changing seasons through flora, birdsong and beautiful sunsets. All of this has seen the community operate as it had been, albeit with alternative approaches and emphases as the climate dictates. This period has been one where individuals – neighbours, friends and colleagues etc. – have gone the extra mile and have pulled together for the greater good of all, and I truly believe that we shall come out of this even more united. It is very encouraging that members from across all sections of our community have demonstrated unity and collaboration at this critical time. We all have had to learn new ways through which we can reach out across our community, and we are challenged as to discover how to be effective in both the physical and digital world. I have no doubt that together we can discover how we can best serve our community and address all potential and real challenges in the days ahead.

*Fermanagh and Omagh District Council was pleased to provide Camowen Outreach Group with £700 of funding support.