A most welcome development in 2019 was the construction work on our new state of the art domestic abuse facility, Modh Eile House, which took place throughout the year. The building will be ready to occupy in January 2020, when we will have more room and enhanced facilities in a building that is now suitable for women and their children to build a new future for themselves.
We secured funding from a generous donor through The Ireland Funds, which will support us in developing our child-centred domestic abuse service. We also received increased funding from Tusla to provide outreach support services in county Galway for the one in five women and their children who experience this terrible form of abuse. We continue to offer support, advice and guidance, and hope to empower women to chart “another way” (in the spirit of the meaning of Modh Eile - Irish for ‘another way’ ) for themselves and their children.
We are also very excited about our new Meals4Health social enterprise, which provides tailored, nutritious and tasty meals for anyone who needs a specialised diet due to age or for medical reasons. John, who lives in London, got in touch recently to tell us how he feels about it.
““I can’t recommend Meals4Health enough! My Mam was always independent until she fell and broke her hip in spring. Mam wanted to stay living at home but couldn’t shop or cook for herself and I live in the UK. Mam gets Meals4Health delivered every week now – I’m so relieved I don’t have to worry about her getting a healthy and delicious meal each day.”
Meals can be ordered online at www.meals4health.ie and are delivered to customers at home so that people can eat well, live well, and age well. We are consistently expanding our range of meals and recently won a National Age Friendly Recognition and Achievement Award in the Business Innovation category.
Homelessness, on the other hand, has continued to grow and challenge us to find solutions when so little housing is available. The greatest concern continues to be the constant growth in the numbers of families becoming homeless. In 2019 alone (up to December 11 ) 182 families were provided with emergency accommodation.
What is frustrating is that during this timeframe, while 73 families moved out of emergency accommodation, another 96 families became homeless and were provided with emergency accommodation. Most of the families coming into homelessness are doing so after losing their homes in the private rented sector.
On the positive side, Galway City Council provided a new Family Hub in Galway in May, run by COPE Galway. With capacity to accommodate 10 families, there is a targeted focus on supporting families accommodated in the Family Hub to move to long-term homes. Already five families have moved on from the Hub into tenancies.
The other group most affected by the acute shortage of housing are single people, due to the chronic absence of available single occupancy dwellings. This, along with a combination of other factors has contributed to a significant growth in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Galway. This year we initiated our Cold Weather Response in association with Galway City Council in the first week of November.
On a number of nights, we have had up to 30 people seeking shelter, food and supports. This is the highest ever level of need we have experienced in the 14 winters we have been providing this service in Galway City. Our team of staff continue go the extra mile and beyond to try to offer respite from the weather as well as humanity, compassion, and care towards finding a way out of one of life’s most challenging circumstances.
As a response to the lack of housing for single people, COPE Galway continues to develop shared housing in the community, which is working out really well in terms of offering an independent stable home until single occupancy accommodation is available. There are now 24 people living across eight shared houses who are engaging with services, supports, activities, studies, jobs, and volunteering, and overall leading more fulfilling lives.
For example, our Housing Worker and Life Skills Support Worker supported one of our community housing tenants to complete courses while living in Community Housing. This woman told us of how the team were “trying their best to show that they are with us, that we should not think that we are alone”. She now works as a caregiver for older people and has since secured rented accommodation.
It is at Christmas, more than any other time of the year that the generosity and good will of Galway people shines brightly. We continue to be amazed by the thoughtfulness of our community who, every year, bring gifts, donate food and funds, organise collections and events, produce songs, sing carols, volunteer, and in general do whatever they can to make Christmas a little more special and enjoyable for others.
Our Community Catering Service provided 390 traditional Christmas lunches, with all the trimmings, to the 14 lunch clubs for older people in Galway city and county and continued to provide meals throughout the Christmas period to over 150 Meals on Wheels customers. We also delivered over 320 hampers to families with the FEAD programme and we distributed around 80 gifts to older people in our community. This year also, over 1000 children and adults in our services received a gift from the Galway Giving Tree initiative run mainly by Florinda, Fintan and their elves.
At this time of year we value the opportunity to thank each and every person in the community who is part of what it takes to really touch the lives of people who may be struggling, or lonely at a point in their lives. This is what we do in COPE Galway, and we absolutely could not do it without your support and generosity.
So to the people of Galway, we say Thank You, and we wish you a very Happy New Year for 2020.”
To access emergency beds during the Cold Weather Response for rough sleepers (open now and running until April 22, 2020 ), phone COPE Galway on 085 8009641 / 085 8009709 COPE Galway 24h Domestic Abuse Service and Refuge is open over the Christmas period – 091 565985.