COPE Galway Faces Unprecedented Challenges in Addressing Homelessness Needs
COPE Galway’s ninth annual Business Leaders Sleep Out will see twenty-nine people from Galway’s business community sleep on Shop Street over 12 hours on Friday, 4 December. The homeless crisis in Galway has not gone away and participants hope to raise awareness and funds for COPE Galway’s Homeless Services.
As pandemic restrictions ease, Sharon Fitzpatrick, COPE Galway’s Head of Development, has announced the go ahead of this year’s sleep out in its usual location on Shop Street. Sharon said, “Safety measures around COVID-19 challenged us to do things differently this year. Participants will be divided into small, separate pods, with thorough hygiene and social distancing measures in place”. Sharon offered thanks to the participants, commenting, “We have faced unprecedented challenges in responding to and addressing the needs of those who are homeless locally. 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.”
COVID-19 has demonstrated the vital role front line services for homelessness play in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of many in our community without a home of their own. Since the onset of the pandemic, COPE Galway has had to reconfigure some of its operations to ensure stability for those they work with and that safe and good quality emergency accommodation is available to those who need it.
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. 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.
COPE Galway 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,” explained Martin O’Connor, Assistant CEO of COPE Galway. “We are concerned that many of those we work with are inadvertently further disadvantaged by the move online of services and virtual viewings.”
The Business Sleep Out is COPE Galway’s largest fundraising event, raising €850,000 over the past eight years. Sharon Fitzpatrick concluded, “These funds have been vital in ensuring that we have the resources to continue providing support to individuals and families who are at risk of, or experiencing homelessness in Galway. 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”.
If you know one of the 29 Business Leaders taking part in this year’s COPE Galway Business Leaders’ Sleepout, please support them. To donate and/or support your Business Leader, visit www.copegalway.ie/sleepout
Further information: copegalway.ie/sleepout
COPE Galway Background:
COPE Galway is a local Galway organisation whose vision is for a community where every person is valued, cared for and supported at every stage of life. COPE Galway understands, respects and responds to the needs of people who struggle with the challenges of homelessness and domestic abuse and supports older people towards healthy and active ageing.
In 2019, 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.
COPE Galway’s new strategy 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.