COPE Galway CEO calls for Government to step up and address unsustainable deficit in statutory funding to deliver basic human rights.
COPE Galway’s 2022 annual report, launched today (Wednesday, 4 October 2023), reveals an acceleration in demand for its services during yet another challenging year, when the local charity supported almost 3,000 people across Galway city and county.
The organisation worked with 843 women, children and young people impacted by domestic abuse last year – a 21% increase on the previous year. Significantly, staff dealt with a staggering 10 crisis calls per day relating to domestic abuse. COPE Galway also worked with 1,217 people, including 303 children, who were homeless or at risk of homelessness; and they supported 901 older people with healthy, independent ageing at home.
CEO Michael Smyth said, “These figures give a sense of the extensive reach, range and widely felt impact of the work we achieved in the Galway Community. As the people we work with navigated a difficult period in their lives with dignity and strength, our professional, caring and persevering employees supported each person along their journey, often under extremely challenging circumstances.”
Attendees at the launch learned of innovative and collaborative projects that COPE Galway developed throughout the year, thanks to philanthropic funding and the generous support of the people of Galway. 2022 saw the charity increase their focus on creative prevention and early engagement initiatives such as a Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships schools programme, designed to reach young people at an early age to address the societal issue of domestic abuse. Homework clubs were developed in response to the immediate needs of children who are homeless and living for extended periods in emergency accommodation. The innovative Meals4Health team developed a range of renal diet meals for people living with kidney disease.
“Combined with volunteering and employment opportunities, befriending and social inclusion programmes, these projects represent a sample of COPE Galway’s far-reaching impact on all sections of our community,” added Mr Smyth.
COPE Galway welcomed the collaborative approach in working with their State funders, who provide 74% of their funded income towards providing essential services. The organisation depends on charity and philanthropy, however, to bridge the gap to cover a quarter of their costs in delivering services that meet basic human needs while demand soars every year.
Mr Smyth noted that the community and voluntary sector is operating in an increasingly unsustainable environment and challenged the State to rectify this.
“It is unacceptable that we must depend on charity or philanthropy to cover 26% of our costs in delivering essential services to the people of Galway,” he said.
Over 370 COPE Galway employees and volunteers play an essential role in addressing the diverse needs of the Galway community. Attendees heard stories and accounts illustrating staff’s ability to innovate and adapt to ever changing demands, which along with a commitment to deliver person-centred support to vulnerable groups, makes their work indispensable. However, Smyth also cited precarious year-to-year statutory funding and a legacy – since 2009 – of unrestored and wide-sweeping funding cuts, in an environment where NGO staff continue to be asked to work more for pay levels that are between 10 and 19 per cent below their public sector counterparts.
He concluded, “While the commitment of our employees makes it possible for us to continue to deliver essential services and support those in our community who need it most, we are struggling to retain and recruit staff due to pay deficits that threaten our sector’s ability to maintain and expand service delivery. It’s time for Government to step up and address the unacceptable and unsustainable deficit in statutory funding to deliver services in support of basic human needs.”
COPE Galway’s annual report will be available to view at copegalway.ie/annualreport.
Homeless Service | Domestic Abuse Service | Senior Support Service