2022 was the busiest year ever for COPE Galway’s services. CEO Michael Smyth reflects on how a close relationship with the Galway community ensures the local organisation is never working alone in its efforts to support vulnerable people in our society during difficult times.
“COPE Galway’s work has been embedded in the community for 50 years now, reaching deep into the heart of Galway city and county. During this time, you – the people who make up these communities – have shown unwavering support for the individuals and families we work with across our homeless, domestic abuse and senior support services. Because of you, we can make a real difference in our community.
Looking back on the year just past, it is impossible to ignore the difficult times and relentless challenges that 2022 has brought to each and every one of us. As a result, COPE Galway’s staff are supporting more people than ever before.
Sadly, these challenges look set to continue into 2023 as we hear about “record numbers” of people homeless, of deepening economic, housing and health crises. We must remember that the people we work with are among the first to bear the brunt due to the challenges they already face from not having a home of their own, staying in emergency accommodation for extended periods, fleeing abhorrent abuse at home, or facing the social isolation and economic deprivation that can accompany older age.
Each person we work with has a unique story, with their own traumas, strengths and skills; their own place in the community. When they come to us, they know they don’t have to face this trauma alone.
Time and again, you’ve shown us a marked level of compassion and understanding for the people we serve. Without the support our community continues to offer, we could not achieve the breadth and depth of positive impacts for our clients.
Every day, we meet people who are struggling. Our professional, highly skilled teams work hard to achieve the best possible outcomes for the adults and children we work with while they remain in crisis situations for longer. By the end of 2022, our homeless service was supporting 111 families with 263 children and 139 single people. These included 82 families (186 children) who are currently living in emergency or transitional accommodation because there is nowhere for them to move on to.
Our domestic abuse refuge remained open 24/7 and our outreach, children and young people’s services remained highly responsive to the hundreds of women and their children living in abusive situations across our city and county. Our senior support service workers, befrienders and volunteers continued to support healthy, active, independent ageing for our older citizens, some of whom have been more isolated than ever before.
While your support makes a difference year-round, this Christmas it also meant our staff and volunteers were able to produce, pack and deliver over 1,000 gifts and 470 essential food hampers to every family and individual using our services. In addition to our regular meals service, we delivered festive meal packs to 55 people who would otherwise go without, to make sure they had something special for Christmas and Stephens Day.
Thanks to you, more than 300 people gathered together over food and music at festive community lunches and social gatherings across our services. Children received toys and treats and one donation meant children using our domestic abuse service were able to give a special gift to their mums. Yet again, the Galway community believed in us and in what we are trying to do.
Every single volunteer, community group, donor, business, family and individual supporter helps us make a difference by empowering the people we work with, by creating change and strengthening our communities.
The importance of this community, of working together collaboratively, has never shone brighter than in the past year. Thank you for believing in our work throughout 2022, and for enabling us to continue forward in delivering these vital services to the women, men, families and children who need it most.”
Michael Smyth, COPE Galway CEO.