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NESC publishes Secretariat Paper No.22: Community Call: Learning for the Future


 ‘Community Call – public sector and community & voluntary partnership delivers results’


Community Call has been an experiment in partnership between national and local government, and the community and voluntary sector.  It was set up at great speed in response to a major public health emergency.  It delivered co-ordinated support to vulnerable people remaining at home during Covid-19 lockdowns.

This is the key finding in a new paper from the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). The paper looks at how Community Call was established, how it has developed, and the learning from this innovative programme.

It found that organisations working together across boundaries were able to effectively identify vulnerable people and their needs, deliver a range of services to them, and co-ordinate to cover any gaps in service provision. Inter-organisational structures, such as the Community Call Forums led by each local authority, made a significant difference to the ability to coordinate and deliver rapid responses. The community and voluntary sector also played a key role in the work of identifying and supporting the vulnerable.

A range of new structures were set up to co-ordinate work at local level, and to raise issues which could not be resolved at that level, to regional and national level decision-makers who were able to resolve them. “These co-ordination structures could be useful to help implement other cross-cutting Government policies”, said Dr Anne-Marie McGauran, author of the report.

Community Call helped local authorities to become more connected to community and voluntary groups in their areas. Changed working practices in, and between, statutory and community and voluntary organisations were also evident, with faster decision-making, and more autonomy given to on-the-ground organisations. Community Call was able to use and adapt existing administrative and IT systems, but has also shown scope for how these could be improved.

The learning from Community Call has important longer term implications for ways of working.  It is key to look at how the success of the initiative can be built upon, and how innovative aspects of the work can be replicated, going forward.  It can provide guidance and inspiration to those seeking to address other problems associated with the pandemic, and beyond it, during Ireland’s recovery.

To view the full report Community Call: Learning for the Future

Note to Editors

The Secretariat Paper was posted on the NESC Website, on March 1st 2021.

For further information please contact Anne-Marie McGauran,

e: /

t:  +353-1-814 6365


Community Call is the state organised and community-based support programme for those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable during Covid-19. Under this programme, each local authority established a COVID-19 Community Call Forum, and a telephone helpline. Each Forum works with State agencies and community and voluntary groups to provide supports or services to any vulnerable person who needs them. Such supports and services include collection and delivery of essential items like food, ‘meals-on-wheels’, household items, fuel or medicine, and support for those experiencing social isolation. Those in need of the services could contact the helpline, or email, to request support.

This Secretariat Paper is part of the NESC Secretariat’s work on Covid-19. This work has been carried out during 2020 and 2021 to provide timely, concise analysis of Ireland’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, to assist policy-makers and other stakeholders.

About the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

The National Economic & Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973.  Its function is to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy, the achievement of social justice and the development of a strategic framework for the conduct of relations and negotiation of agreements between the government and the social partners.  The Council is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.  It comprises representatives of trade unions, employer bodies, farm organisations, community and voluntary organisations, environmental organisations, key Government departments and has eight independent experts.




To view the paper click here

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