‘Rural isolation …it’s a powder keg waiting to explode’

“The amount of people locked away on their own, cut off from all human contact, is frightening. It’s a powder keg ready to explode.” That’s according to Wexford Aontu councillor Jim Codd who is setting up the Neighbour Project in a bid to combat isolation and help people in difficulty.

Cllr. Codd said he was overwhelmed by the amount of people who had contacted him after his social media post about a man who had been contemplating suicide.

“It’s been an incredible outpouring of compassion and empathy, with many people offering assistance and even more just concerned for the man’s well-being. I can tell you now that he is doing well and talking to professionals about his issues,” he said.

“I’m in regular contact and am under no illusion that it’s going to be easy but he has taken the first step and asked for help. I am also sad to report that I have been contacted by even more people seeking help, reaching out and telling me about their fears and anxieties, and the incredible loneliness that they feel during these incredible times,” said cllr. Codd.

The amount of people locked away on their own, cut off from all human contact, is frightening. It’s a powder keg ready to explode.

“That’s why I’m asking for your help today. Some of you have already given me your details but we need more volunteers,” he said.

The Wexford councillor said he was setting up the Neighbour Project to reach out to all those locked away.

“Hopefully we can capture that compassion you have all shown and the generosity and friendliness that enshrines the very nature of Irish people, and use it to help people in need.

“I want volunteers to be available to answer their phone to lonely people in our community. I’m not asking for qualifications or specialist skills, I’m just asking for you to be a neighbour. This is not the Samaritans or Talk to Tom. Those groups are doing amazing work already,” cllr. Codd said.

Cut off

“This is simply a call for neighbours in the true Irish sense of the word, to have a socially distanced chat with people who have no-one to talk to. Believe me, there are too many of them out there and no-one – no-one – deserves to be alone and cut off from the rest of humanity.

“If you can spare some time to be a neighbour, private message me for more details. And if you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here,” he said.

“Thanks to all the people who have already volunteered to support the Neighbour Project and act as friends to the lonely and isolated, trapped behind doors across our county.

“I am sincerely overwhelmed by the amount of people who have offered to help already but I’m also frightened by the sheer amount of need for the project. I have spoken to so many broken people, totally at a loss, at their wits end, over the past week.”