As a record 50 Business Leaders pack their kits and prepare to sleep out on Shop Street over 12 hours on Friday, 3 December, over 200 Galway children will spend this Christmas in emergency accommodation provided by COPE Galway.
Participants representing 39 Galway organisations aim to raise awareness and funds to help COPE Galway’s Homeless Service continue to offer meaningful intervention to over 320 men, women and children who are homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Galway. This December, COPE Galway is supporting 73 families with 200 children and over 80 single people living in emergency accommodation. The local organisation is supporting a further 41 single men and women and 13 families in transitional accommodation across the community of Galway.
Sinead Carey, Head of COPE Galway’s Homeless Service, who is participating in the 10th anniversary event, tells us of the concerns these families have while availing of the charity’s emergency accommodation. “There is no comparison to living in your own home when staying in confined settings such as B&Bs or hotel rooms. Mums and Dads worry about children missing out on formative experiences like Christmas memories and do their best to shield their children from the anxieties around not having a home of their own. But living here has an effect on nutrition, on physical activity, on schooling. During periods of Covid restrictions difficulties engaging with remote schooling have been even more pronounced. There’s an immediate challenge in meeting children’s developmental goals and milestones in unsuitable settings, one which we are doing our best to address, while the search for suitable and affordable housing continues.”
The Business Sleep Out is COPE Galway’s largest fundraising event, raising over €1million over the past nine years. Sleep Out founder and former COPE Galway Board member, Hannah Kiely points to the fact that this year’s record number of Sleep Out participants for the 10-year anniversary indicates a palpable sense of care for our fellow citizens amongst the business community.
“Local people have not forgotten those in our community who are struggling with issues around homelessness, especially while Covid has added challenges,” Hannah says. “While I’m angered by the fact that homelessness is not going away any time soon, I’ve seen first-hand how COPE Galway relies on the funds raised, making a real difference to the lives of so many individuals and families in Galway. This Christmas there are 37 children who, for the second year in a row, and some for their third, are wondering if Santa will find them on Christmas Eve. Awareness and fundraising events like the Business Sleep Out are an opportunity for us to do something about unacceptable situations like this and make a big impact on the problem of homelessness in Galway.”
COPE Galway will use the funds raised by the Business Leaders’ Sleep Out to develop and increase resources to support families and individuals while they remain for extended periods of time in unsuitable accommodation. This will range from continuing to expand and develop community supported housing, increased tenancy support and preventative work for men, women and families so they avoid homelessness.
If you know one of the 50 Business Leaders who will Sleep Out over 12 hours on Shop Street for the 10th COPE Galway Business Leaders’ Sleep Out, please support them. Find their page to donate at copegalwaysleepout.ie