The Order of Malta, Omagh Unit

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, the Order of Malta Omagh Unit shares its story.

The Order of Malta Omagh Unit, which has been in operation for over fifty- five years, is usually engaged in providing first aid cover at large events across the district. During COVID-19 they have been providing a reassuring presence in a different way. Members assisted the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service with patient transfers and signed up as a community partner with the Community Development Health Network (CDHN) for the delivery of medication. CDHN had taken on the role of coordinating the community and voluntary sector response to the pressures that Community Pharmacies were experiencing. They connected and supported a network of community/voluntary sector groups to assist Community Pharmacies by coordinating volunteer drivers to deliver medications on behalf of Community Pharmacy. The Community Support for Community Pharmacy Scheme was established by Community Development & Health Network (CDHN) to coordinate community and voluntary sector support for community pharmacies across Northern Ireland. The scheme was developed and commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board.

The Order of Malta Omagh Unit had signed up to work with two pharmacies, one of which is located in Dromore in West Tyrone. The Organisation’s Officer in Charge, Angela Mc Goldrick, stated that they were delighted to assist and that the fourteen volunteers found it extremely rewarding to help others during these challenging times.

In addition to the delivery of vital medication to those shielding, the Order of Malta Omagh Unit has been cleaning and sanitising the Sacred Heart Church Omagh as it recently reopened for private prayer. The Cadet unit has sent letters to residents in Care Homes who have been unable to receive visitors and participated in a national project recording a video expressing appreciation to healthcare workers. This group is another excellent example of how volunteers adapted to a rapidly changing situation.