Every year, there are men, women and children in our community for whom Christmas is the loneliest time of year. Whether due to the isolation that sometimes comes with older age; whether you have had to flee violence at home or if you are enduring the realities of homelessness, this season can compound what is already an exceptionally difficult time.
Over the past 32 years, thousands of swimmers have made it part of their Christmas ritual to wear the COPE Galway t-shirt, bring along their cheerleaders and take a dip in the bracing waters of Galway Bay to raise funds and awareness to support vulnerable individuals and families in our community.
Connacht Rugby Head Coach, Andy Friend has been “jumping in the water” ever since he and his family first witnessed the Christmas morning crowds at Blackrock four years ago. The fact that the event is at Christmas time, he says, “brings home how, while most of us are meant to be enjoying ourselves, there are others who can’t experience that joy. It’s great to know that the funds raised here have a direct and positive impact on the lives of people in Galway that may be suffering in a way they shouldn’t be.”
Actor Nora Jane Noone cites a consciousness of the disconnect and hardship many in our community have endured this year as a reason for her to take part in this community fundraising event. She told us that for her, braving the cold waters of Galway Bay serves as a small reminder of the comforts and the safety many of us enjoy that others don’t have.” Another participant, Stephanie Campion added, “The sharp cold of the ocean, the sense of community and of course, the sense of achievement afterwards all go towards our mental wellbeing too.”
Lynia O’Brien, COPE Galway Swim Event Organiser said, “This is such a great community event, whether you are home for the holiday or braving the cold virtually. We love to see the variety of people who register to swim - veteran sea swimmers and dippers, groups and teams of friends, families, schools and colleagues. It’s a special thing to be part of such a long-held Christmas tradition and a great reminder that while the day is about being with family, it’s also about remembering and supporting our community.”
The COPE Galway Christmas Swim raises essential funds that go directly towards providing for children, young people, ?women?and men?in Galway who need extra support?this Christmas and throughout the year. In 2020, COPE Galway supported 2,616 men, women, children and young people across the city and?county through?their services for homelessness, domestic abuse and services for older people.??
The COPE Galway Christmas Swim takes place from 20-26 December and includes an option to attend a slot at the live event on Christmas Day between 9am and 1pm. COPE Galway is encouraging participants to register online and to stay safe while you swim, follow covid protocols, stay warm, dry and never swim alone. The copegalway.ie/swim website is full of information with resources for your safety, your fundraiser, your social media and a space to share your swim stories.
To register and for further information?please visit? copegalway.ie/swim?