Lochside Garage

Cavanaleck ‘family’give masterclass in community spirit

THE RESIDENTS Cavanaleck are no strangers to supporting each other, but since the Covid-19 crisis began the neighbourhood has been giving a masterclass in community spirit.
Last Thursday the estate hosted what was possibly Fermanagh’s biggest street party since the lockdown began. With entertainment from the The Party Bees, the socially distanced event took the festivities right to people’s doorsteps, moving around the estate so no one had to venture too far outdoors.
The party was a roaring success, bringing together neighbours young and old. It was also well deserved, given the effort the residents have been putting in over recent weeks.
Nuala O’Toole is on the committee of the Cavanaleck Community Association, which is based at The Leaf Centre. She said from the moment the lockdown was announced the community swung into action.
“At the beginning of this we thought we have to do something to keep morale up in the estate. So first thing, we said there are vulnerable people here, we need to do a bit of shopping,” said Nuala. “Then we started looking to see how we could keep people engaged.”
The association has certainly been doing just that. Early on, for example, it set up a special community library at the centre.
“Everybody comes, they donate books, a couple of the members are there and it’s all done with social distancing, the books are cleaned and what have you,” said Nuala. “Everybody donates and takes books away and it runs three times a week for two hours. It’s going really, really well.”
The idea came about as Nuala and fellow committee members Mary Fee and Debbie Coyle have been training over the years in promoting verbal arts in the community.
Having previously hosted weekly reading room sessions at the centre, they are currently in the process of setting up virtual reading rooms instead. On top of that, they are also planning on setting up a version where they will read to local children via Zoom, and another initiative in future that will see them reading to residents of Meadow View nursing home.
As if that wasn’t enough, the association, which is proud of their frontline worker Debbie Coyle, has also been donating pamper packages, called ‘handcream for heroes’ to local key workers, supported by generous donations from residents, while their chairwoman Phyllis Fegan, has been making scrubs for the staff too.
Among those they are donating handcream to are the staff of the Spar shop in Chanterhill, who Nuala said had been going to great effort to make sure locals have what they need, as have her neighbours in Cavanaleck.
When asked why she felt the estate had such a strong sense of community, Nuala said: “I think personally it’s the people who live here, because the people who live here care about here and they care about each other. It’s like a large family.”

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