Need for COPE SleepOut is now greater than ever

COPE Galway’s biggest – and longest – fundraising event of the year will see 32 people from Galway’s business community sleeping rough over 12 hours tomorrow night (Friday, December 7 ) to raise awareness about homelessness in Galway and help raise funds for COPE Galway’s Homeless Services.

COPE Galway’s most recent quarterly one day census (conducted on Nov 21/22 ) identified a total of 195 adults and 221 children as living in emergency accommodation provided directly by COPE Galway and in private emergency accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.

Of this figure, 84 were families. There were also 27 people sleeping rough that night. With the homeless situation in Galway worse than ever, the organisation relies on the generosity of the Galway people to help them help those who need assistance most.

The Business Sleepout was set up six years ago by local business leaders Hannah Kiely and Gerry Halloran.

“In 2012 I could see the effects of the recession on business in terms of cuts in wages and layoffs, and saw how bad things were getting in Galway in terms of the homeless situation,” said Mr Halloran.”We thought if a small group of business people could raise awareness of what was happening in our city and help to raise some funds for COPE Galway at the same time, that would be something positive”.

“The first year we had five participants and raised €7,000, “ said Hannah Kiely. “This has grown to over 30 participants who in 2017 raised a total of €165,000. The growth in success of the event shows the level of awareness and commitment among the Galway business community”.

In 2012, when the first Sleepout took place, COPE Galway emergency accommodation stays for families were averaging less than one month at a time. Today there are a small number of families who are over two years in emergency accommodation.

Most of those requiring emergency accommodation stay there for an extended period of time due to difficulties in finding accommodation. There is an obvious frustration that the problem of homelessness is not going away and that the funds for services are needed more than ever.

“I believe there is something fundamentally wrong with society when children are opening their presents on Christmas morning in hotel rooms instead of in a home of their own,” said Ms Kiely.

“Despite all the work of COPE Galway and others, this is still the situation<’ she continued.

With the annual event now entering its seventh year, Gerry Halloran speaks about the changes he’s noticed during his involvement with the Sleepout.

“Over these years, I’ve watched the homeless crisis grow and grow. I never imagined that in the 7th year of the Sleepout there would be 10,000 people homeless in Ireland. I’ve also seen how people have always responded positively to COPE Galway even through the tough recessionary years.

“On the night of the Sleepout we see such fantastic support from members of the public – the minute you mention COPE Galway, people want to make a donation. The funds we’ve raised have made a real difference to Galway’s homeless population. If we stopped now, what would happen?”

The funds raised by this year’s Business Leader Participants are earmarked to fund:

COPE Galway Street Outreach Service, supporting rough sleepers

Practical and emotional supports for families living in emergency accommodation including counselling services, recreational activities and funding towards the cost of education

Support for individuals to access detox and treatment services and to support education and training opportunities

Since 2012, the Business Leader Sleepout has seen 131 local members of the Galway Business Community raise €527,000 in total. With another 32 participants signed up for tomorrow’s 2018 Sleepout, COPE Galway values the excellent relationship it has with the local business community.

Sharon Fitzpatrick, COPE Galway Head of Development, says the Business Leader Participants can see the progress made over the past six years, the funds that have been raised and the difference this has made to Galway’s homeless.

“Many business people and organisations continue to support COPE Galway throughout the year through other supports and initiatives, both financial and in kind. We couldn’t do the work we do without this support.”

Hannah Kiely concluded by asking about the future need for the Sleepout.

“Are we still going to be doing the sleep out in ten years? Probably. In three years? Absolutely. The problem of homelessness is not going away any time soon, making this event all the more critical to helping us make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

If you know one of the 32 Business Leaders taking part in this year’s COPE Galway Business Leaders’ Sleepout please support them – visit webpage below for the list of participants.

We are encouraging members of the public who are out and about in Galway city on Friday night to come and show their support for the Business Sleep Out participants and COPE Galway. Donations can also be made online at www.copegalway.ie/sleepout To access emergency beds during the Cold Weather Response for rough sleepers (open now and running until April 22, 2019 ), phone COPE Galway on 085 8009641 / 085 8009709

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