Dublin’s Carla Rowe found it hard not being able to be in contact with her Dad who works as a frontline healthcare professional

Dublin’s Carla Rowe takes a deep breath before taking a free against Tipperary in the opening game of the 2020 Lidl NFL.
Dublin’s Carla Rowe takes a deep breath before taking a free against Tipperary in the opening game of the 2020 Lidl NFL.

By Declan Rooney

Carla Rowe’s life of structure and routine has been hugely affected because of the coronavirus outbreak – and with her Dad playing a key role as a front-line healthcare professional, she is well versed on the realities several people face.

A childcare worker by profession, Rowe has been cut off from that regular stream of personal contact and care-giving, while her time with the Dublin Senior football panel is now a virtual experience, spent checking in remotely as they try to entertain each other with cooking classes and various exercises to maintain positive mental and physical health.

A month of no face-to-face contact with her Dad, Shay, is one of the toughest aspects of lockdown, but she knows his increased work with the ambulance service is vital to the wellbeing of hundreds of Dubliners.

“My dad is a fireman but years ago when he trained, he did become a paramedic too so he has always done some ambulance work,” said Rowe, a Lidl Ireland ‘One Good Club’ ambassador.

“I think he is very like me: he takes everything in his stride. He is used to difficult and pressurised situations.

“It would be a worry for us. Dad wouldn’t be much of a worrier himself but I know his job is high risk. There is not much you can do. His job is to go out there and help people. That’s what they continue to do and they take every precaution. Hopefully that keeps them all well in his work.

“What’s hard on me and him is that I’m not living at home and he is obviously high risk for getting the virus. I have not been able to be in contact with him for the last five weeks. That was hard at the start, but we have been ringing each other regularly, and we’re hoping this won’t go on for much longer.”

Initiatives like Lidl’s priority queuing for all healthcare professionals are a massive help according to Dublin’s Carla Rowe – “They are under a lot of pressure now so to have those little small things, you’d be surprised how much they help” – but she knows that stress levels and anxiety are likely to be an issue in the general population.

This week the LGFA, Lidl Ireland and Jisgaw teamed up to promote Jigsaw’s updated online service, which Rowe thinks is an excellent resource for children, adults and teachers.

“Stability has been taken from everyone in their daily routine which can be a big change, especially for young people. Sport, school and their friends are the core of their life; it can be difficult without it.

“A lot of the work Jigsaw had done was face-to-face and on the ground, which is brilliant, but with this situation they had to quickly adapt.

“They have had a 400 per cent increase in JigsawOnline demand since the Covid-19 crisis and they were able to meet those with services and support.

“With everyone not being able to meet up and have those conversions, being able to put all of those resources online and still provide their services for young people is fantastic.”

Earlier this week, the GAA announced it will halt all activities until the end of July at the earliest. As teams continue to train, Rowe knows it will be a difficult time for some players to keep working on their own aiming for a possible return three months away.

“I like to set a short term goal and if it doesn’t happen then I reset and go again. To have a goal that’s mid-summer is difficult, but I think we might have to peel training back for a week or two and take a bit of a break.

“I probably have a quite a positive outlook and I try to keep myself motivated that way, but for people who are struggling, my advice would be to just don’t think too far ahead. Take it day by day. Set goals for yourself, say today I’ll go for a walk, tomorrow I’ll try something else. Maybe try a few different things, don’t do as much running or try some yoga or pilates. You’re still keeping active but just having a change could help.

“You’d be surprised if you have got a routine and you are doing your bit of exercise, staying in touch with your family and friends, that time does pass quicker than you think. Using resources like Jigsaw Online are ideal. If you are feeling anxious and stressed go on and have a look. There are so many different things available. Even just talking to someone is great.”

Lidl has brought together the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and Jigsaw to help spearhead youth mental health services amid COVID-19 crisis. Lidl Ambassador and Dublin LGFA player, Carla Rowe, speaks out in support of the initiative, encouraging young people, parents and those working with youths to utilise Jigsaw’s new online mental health services available at www.JigsawOnline.ie