A local university and charity have joined forces to benefit some of the most vulnerable and isolated people in Galway.
The partnership agreement between the president of NUI Galway, Dr James J Browne, and the chairman of COPE Galway, John Concannon, is the first of its kind.
Through this initiative, an innovative approach is being taken by the university in working with a voluntary organisation. Students and academics involved in teaching, research and volunteerism will put a range of resources at the service of COPE Galway, according to the university.
COPE provides services including a refuge for women and children affected by domestic violence, accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, and social supports for older people living in their own homes.
In the past year it delivered more than 40,000 meals to older people - supporting them to continue living in their own homes - a refuge and outreach support to almost 300 women and their children experiencing domestic violence and more than 10,000 bed nights to homeless women and men.
A memorandum of understanding commits both organisations to deepening their engagement with Galway people through a range of partnerships and collaborations.
NUI Galway president Dr Browne says the university is committed to providing a positive and supportive learning environment for students.
“The educational experience at NUI Galway is enhanced by opportunities for experiential learning and personal development afforded to students through service learning, volunteering and other activities in local, national and international arenas.
“The university has always enjoyed strong relationships with the city of Galway and with non-profit and voluntary organisations in its area. We are proud to work with charities such as COPE Galway to ensure that the economic, social and cultural needs of the region are met in the fullest possible way”.
The college, largely through its Community Knowledge Initiative, incorporates civic engagement opportunities into mainstream teaching and research educational activities, says a spokesperson for the university.
“ NUI Galway formally demonstrates its institutional commitment to student and staff engagement as critical citizens in pertinent societal issues and community endeavours. To date over 25 degree programmes offer some 800 students annually a service learning experience whereby they use their knowledge to enhance the capacity of community. In addition, over 700 students volunteer every year in local, national and international communities through the ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme.
Chairman of COPE Galway John Concannon says it strongly believes in the power of positive community engagement.
“We aim to make it easy and natural for all to contribute to the wellbeing of society. We are delighted to form this partnership with NUI Galway. By strengthening our organisation through alliances with key institutions such as NUI Galway powerful networks are created. This leads to the establishment of a compelling knowledge base and the skills and momentum for a healthy, inclusive society are passed on to future generations.”