As Michael Smyth settles into his role at the helm of COPE Galway, the local charity’s CEO reflects on the year gone by and looks towards the year ahead for a community that works together to protect its most vulnerable citizens.
Our communities are much more than the place we live – they are our families, our friends, they offer a sense of belonging and support.
2021 saw the communities we work with in COPE Galway face many challenges. Yet through it all, we bore witness once again to the power of coming together, hoping together and working together towards brighter times ahead.
In the 7 months since I joined COPE Galway, time and again, I have been humbled and amazed at the dedication, professionalism and resilience of our staff and volunteers, the strength and resolve of the people we work with and the generosity of our supporters in helping us meet the difficult and complex challenges faced by our diverse range of clients.
In dealing with the intense trauma that can come with facing crisis situations like homelessness, domestic abuse or the isolation that can accompany older age, our clients are often at their most vulnerable, struggling to see their own potential. Our staff are unwavering in their work with clients to help them recognise their individual strengths and empower them to take positive steps forward.
One of our volunteer drivers recently gave an account of his Christmas hamper deliveries to the individuals and families we work with across our services. He told me of the warm welcomes he received as he delivered the boxes of food essentials put together by our volunteers from items donated by the Galway community and local businesses.
While some of the people he met spoke of how Christmas can be such a lonely time, he was encouraged by their pride and effort in decorating the place they can call home for now and the excitement for some about offering a home-cooked meal to expected family members over the holiday period.
Thank you. Without you, we would not have been able to support those in our community who needed us most.
This past year saw many positive advances at COPE Galway. We marked Forty Years of supporting women experiencing domestic abuse and further developed our children’s domestic abuse service; we expanded our capacity to respond to a lack of short-term emergency accommodation; developed new supports for children in long-term homelessness and we expanded our meal preparation and delivery service while introducing an enhanced befriending initiative to protect older people against isolation.
At the same time, the challenges we faced as a community in 2021 are not going away. We have seen an increase in the need for our services across all areas of the organisation. With women and children fleeing abhorrent violence in the home; over 200 children availing of our homeless service over Christmas and an increased need to keep in contact with older people during the pandemic, this is an ongoing crisis the Galway community will not accept.
At COPE Galway, we recognise that people are not defined by their crisis.
Each person has strengths that can make a positive difference in their own lives and to that of the communities they live in.
Our promise to you is that we will continue to work on your behalf to support the most vulnerable in our communities, to empowering each person to realise their dreams and aspirations and to create ways for our local community to get involved and support us in what we do. We believe in a community where every person is valued, cared for and supported at every stage of life.
With that in mind, I want to thank you, the people of Galway, for your incredible and sustained support. Without this, we would not have been able to support those who needed us at a vulnerable time in their lives. We look forward to building on our work in 2022 and continuing to make a difference by empowering people, creating change and strengthening our communities”.
Le gach dea-ghuí,
Michael Smyth, CEO