Twenty-nine Galwegians will once again don their warmest coats and hats to sleep out on Shop Street for the homeless.
Organised by COPE Galway, the 12 hour sleepover in the city tomorrow night (Friday ) will see Galway business people take action for this ninth annual Business Leaders Sleep Out to raise funds for the local organisation's homeless services.
COPE's Galway’s head of development Sharon Fitzpatrick says the homeless crisis in Galway has not gone away during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have faced unprecedented challenges in responding to and addressing the needs of those who are homeless locally," she says.
"Since the onset of the pandemic, COPE Galway has had to reconfigure some of its operations to ensure stability for those with whom they work, and that safe and good quality emergency accommodation is available to those who need it."
As a result of Covid-19, it has also necessitated some changes to this annual fundraiser, which is now going ahead with the easing of some restrictions.
"Safety measures around Covid-19 challenged us to do things differently this year," Fitzpatrick says. "Participants will be divided into small, separate pods, with thorough hygiene and social distancing measures in place.
" I’d like to thank the 29 local business leaders who have been working tirelessly for many weeks to raise funds for our homeless services.”
She says Covid-19 has demonstrated the vital role front line services for homelessness play in safeguarding the health and well-being of many in the community without a home of their own.
"The ongoing shortage of suitable and affordable housing continues to be a challenge as the local organisation supports people to move out of homelessness and to secure a home of their own."
Two years in emergency accommo dation
In 2012, when the first Sleep Out took place, COPE Galway emergency accommodation stays for families were averaging less than one month at a time. Today, some families have spent over two years in emergency accommodation.
The Business Sleep Out is COPE's Galway’s largest fundraising event, raising €850,000 over the past eight years.
“These funds have been vital in ensuring we have the resources to continue providing support to individuals and families who are at risk of, or experiencing homelessness in Galway," says Fitzpatrick. "This Christmas there will be children, teenagers and adults who will spend Christmas in a hotel room or B&B – for some, this won’t be their first Christmas to do so. Awareness and fundraising events like the Business Sleep Out are an opportunity for us to do something about unacceptable situations like this”.
Assistant CEO of COPE Galway, Martin O’Connor, says the organisation has had to find new and different ways to stay engaged with the people they support as many other support services now operate remotely via telephone or online.
“While the wider population adapts to an intense period of technological learning this year, this is dependent on people having access to that technology and the know-how to work with it.
“We are concerned many of those we work with are inadvertently further disadvantaged by the move online of services and virtual viewings.”
Last year COPE Galway worked with 2,984 vulnerable people in Galway. This included 1,189 adults and 433 children affected by homelessness (187 families and 868 single people ). They also worked with 638 individual women and their children who were experiencing domestic abuse, produced and delivered 61,016 meals to older clients and to their services around Galway, and worked with 724 older people at risk of isolation. The organisation also supported 2,938 individuals with food from the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD ) Programme and distributed over 700 school kits.
Rights and respect
COPE Galway’s new srategy for 2020-2025 focuses the organisation on its mission: Making a difference by empowering people, creating change and strengthening communities. COPE Galway places its values – rights, respect, hope, community, safety and professionalism – at the heart of its work in the community.
To donate and/or support your business leader, visit www.copegalway.ie/sleepout The 29 people taking part are: Joe Bell (Kenny Galway ), Stephen Conlon (KPMG ), Declan Costello (Medtronic ), Gemma Costello (Bank of Ireland ), Ciara Daly (Mike Bottle Marketing ), Pat Dolan (UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre ), Declan Droney (Kinvara Smoked Salmon ), Pat Duggan (Davy ), Peter Fergus (The Lodge at Ashford Castle ), Orla Flynn (GMIT ), Rob Glynn (Galway Clinic ), Ronan Greaney (Dough Bros ), Anthony Griffin (Pale Blue Dot Recruitment ), Pat Hession (Cisco ), Hannah Kiely (Cope ), Liam Killeen (Sweeney Oil ), Majella King (Insurance Institute of Galway ), Tamara McGough (Wayfair ), Brendan McGrath (Galway City Council ), Enda McGuane (Winters Property ), Paul Mee (Mazars ), Brendan O'Connor (DM O'Connor Solicitors ), Rick Officer (GMIT ), Ben O'Gorman (Galway Advertiser ), Fergus O'Halloran (The Twelve Hotel ), Niall Rochford (Ashford Castle ), David Ruane (AIB ), Alexandra Saivre (Let Peiti Delice ), Tom Walsh (Walsh Waste ).
To access emergency beds during the 14th annual Cold Weather Response for rough sleepers, now open and running until April 2021, phone Cope Galway on 085 8009641/085 8009709 www.copegalway.ie; Facebook, Cope Galway; Twitter, Cope Galway.