Calvin Sweeney is chief operations officer with the Scoop Foundation, a charity set up by him and his brother Andy 11 years ago. They started out raising money for projects in Cambodia, then Kurdistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. For the last four years they have been working with displaced people in warzones. Recently they provided 500kg of medication and half a ton of winter clothes to camps in Syria when the Turkish army invaded the north of the country. They also do ongoing emergency response work there. In Iraq they are currently running several programmes in camps including an IT programme which teaches young people coding, graphic design, and computer skills. They also provide online distance learning courses with volunteers from Ireland. They have established a psycho-social programme for Yazidi women and children who were in Islamic state captivity for up to six years. They provide them with psychological support and help to reintegrate them back into the community. As part of this they provide an art programme for Yazidi kids. In Yemen they work with a small American NGO called Global Response Management who conduct surveys in areas the UN can’t access. The Scoop Foundation help them gain access to these areas and provide financial support to them. Everything they do is funded through music events and art auctions and they are not in receipt of any government funding.
They decided they would use their skills to try to help at risk groups here in Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic. Calvin told us about their most recent project.
“Everything is on hold for us at the moment. All our work is in warzones but we’re at war now with the Coronavirus at home. It was a no-brainer for us to get stuck in and try to help. We know that the government have been sourcing huge amounts of PPE for the HSE from China, but I got wind that the private nursing homes and refugee centers were crying out for suitable equipment. In direct provision centers with their cramped conditions there is a real danger of the virus spreading.”
The Scoop Foundation teamed up with Berlin Bar in Dublin and Black Bull in Drogheda, two venues where Calvin regularly DJs, in order to raise money for PPE. The venues had a weeklong series of events online with DJs and live music streaming, live cooking classes and meditation sessions. Bar 1661 in Dublin also came onboard and sourced 200ltrs hand sanitizer for the project. All of their social media sites have links and information about how people can donate or get involved.
All of those involved with the Scoop Foundation have backgrounds in the music industry, but Calvin previously worked as a healthcare assistant in a dementia care nursing home. Andy and Calvin also come from a family of nurses so they have seen first hand the tireless and selfless work of those on the frontlines.
“All of my aunts were nurses and so was my mum. She worked in both the Children’s Hospital and in Cappagh Hospital. I used to work in a nursing home myself too as a health care assistant. I got in touch with them and offered to help. We have identified three direct provision centers as well as the nursing home service which has four facilities. They were all really glad of our support and we hope we can continue to help while this crisis continues.”
You can donate to the project here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1216735195201755/