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COVID-19: We care and we are still here

08 Apr 2020

Leading local health charity Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke has pledged that they are still here for the over 330,000 local people living with chest heart and stroke conditions, who are more vulnerable to COVID- 19.

The charity has recognised that the current situation is having a huge impact on the lives of those living with these conditions, including the thousands who have depended on Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke’s services, who are now having to self-isolate to help protect against the virus. In light of this and in line with the government guidance that has prevented the charity from running its usual face to face services, the charity has begun operating a telephone support service, providing essential guidance, advice and emotional support to local people.

Over the past fortnight alone, the charity’s care staff have made over three thousand phone calls and hope to continue to provide this service for the duration of the crisis.

Declan Cunnane, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke said, “These are exceptional times and as a charity we are focused more than ever on supporting the local population. We normally run close to 100 weekly support and rehabilitation groups and programmes across Northern Ireland, providing help to those recovering from a stroke and those managing cardiac or respiratory conditions.”

“Protecting the health of our service users is our top priority and it continues to be so in the current crisis. This is why we decided a few weeks ago to pause our face-to-face services and replace them with online and telephone services. Our staff are working tirelessly from their homes to ensure these services continue. It is important that people know we are still here for them, and that we care.”

Director of Care Services, Fiona Greene added,

“We know that the people who attend our services are very worried at this time. We have reorganised our staff to ensure that our service users receive ongoing support with regular phone calls that provide emotional support, answer basic health queries and link people to other local services and support during this coronavirus outbreak.”

“It is vital that the vulnerable adopt ‘shielded’ lives to protect themselves but isolating at home must not lead to people feeling left alone. We are committed to providing ongoing support to our clients and the wider chest, heart and stroke community– it is the core of what our charity is about.”

Fiona continued, “We encourage people to read the COVID-19 information for people living with chest, heart and stroke conditions that is available on our website at Our clients can continue to contact their local NICHS Care Co-ordinator or phone our switchboard on 028 9032 0184 for advice and ongoing support during these challenging times. Nobody should feel alone right now.”

<p>Aisleen Hamill, NICHS Care Coordinator on a support call to one of the thousands of people with chest, heart and stroke conditions who are living ‘shielded’ lives.</p>

Aisleen Hamill, NICHS Care Coordinator on a support call to one of the thousands of people with chest, heart and stroke conditions who are living ‘shielded’ lives.



Photo caption: Aisleen Hamill, NICHS Care Coordinator on a support call to one of the thousands of people with chest, heart and stroke conditions who are living ‘shielded’ lives.

For more information, please contact Neil Johnston Public Affairs and Policy Manager on 07971 256671 or email

Notes for Editor

Over 335,000 people in Northern Ireland are living with a chest, heart and stroke condition. Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke is your local charity, leading the fight against chest, heart and stroke illnesses. Our aim is to support those living with these life changing conditions and prevent others from becoming ill.

We offer practical and emotional support to individuals and families at what can be a difficult time in their lives. Our support services aim to enhance quality of life and increase independence and confidence.


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