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Mothers' Union Members Provide Support Across Ireland
Across Ireland local Mothers’ Union members have stepped up their support for their local parishes and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our members are crafting thousands of new essential items every week, including handmade scrubs, ear protectors, scrub bags (in which health care staff can keep their clothing safely away from colleagues and family members), masks and mask straps.
In Northern Ireland members in Down and Dromore, Connor and Armagh are working with the coordinating body in Lisburn, NI Scrubs, to fulfil the critical need for protective clothing. One member said “I made 10 scrub tops one week - I received pre-cut material and added contrast details in order to brighten them”.
Another lady reported: “I’ve worked now for three weeks making six sets each week … Since March NI Scrubs has made 22,000 set of scrubs. They are stitched by volunteers, collected and delivered to wherever they are needed. Volunteers who love to sew have been keep busy and it has also helped to improve the mental health of those involved”.
It is indeed the mental health and loneliness of members - and others in our communities - which has been one of our main concerns. Besides practical help at a local level where those who are able have been shopping for groceries and collecting medicines for parish colleagues, friends and older members of our communities, many MU members are regularly phoning those they know who live alone to encourage and support them during the “lockdown”.
One special initiative was the delivery of gift bags at Easter to branch members of Rossory parish, outside Enniskillen; each item was chosen to reflect the headings mind, body, heart and soul and included notes from a mental health counsellor which were particularly helpful at this time.
Throughout Ireland there has also been provision of extra prayer and other worship resources to members, locally and nationally. Each week there is a different Reflection on the MU Ireland website, prepared by one of the All Ireland Trustees, and the Faith and Policy Unit regularly circulates new, meaningful prayers to members through the Diocesan Presidents and Indoor Member Contacts. After all, we are now all “Indoor Members”!
There is still action in the community though - some members are volunteering at food banks and some are collecting the basics required by women’s refuges in both jurisdictions; so that the women and children who escape from abusive households and are forced to live in refuges can be adequately fed and clothed.
A community leader said on the radio recently that domestic violence is currently as bad a pandemic as COVID-19. This is indeed a sobering thought. Internationally Mothers’ Union has decided to give this area of work priority in the months ahead.