Homework and Learning Club Volunteers – Dolores, Michael & Eliosha

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Homework and Learning Club Volunteers – Dolores, Michael & Eliosha


When his own two children were fully grown, Michael found himself with time to volunteer. “My wife was already involved with the Food Rescue Programme, so we were very aware of COPE Galway and the work that they do around the city,” he said.

Dolores moved to Galway eight years ago, and has been volunteering with COPE Galway on and off ever since. It was her background in childcare that drew Dolores to the Homework and Learning Club.

Galway native Eliosha was also drawn to the club by past experience volunteering with young people.

I always meant to get back into volunteering and when I found out about Homework and Learning Club I was delighted, because I love maths and teaching and the age group of the kids.


The Homework and Learning Club was organised to have pairs of volunteers develop a rapport with the kids together. The group of 8 to 10 children ranging in ages from 5 to 10 were divided into an older and a younger group for two hours of homework and activities.

She praised the way her COPE Galway supervisor ran the programme and said she sincerely hopes the Club is able to continue in the future. “I just want to be back making a difference, and just to get up and make faces and have fun with them,” she said.

“It was really good craic. We got to play games and then be serious for half an hour and then get up and dance,” Eliosha said. “The time flew and the kids were great once you got to know one another. You get used to balancing the class. It’s a range of ages so you’re jumping from one thing to another.”

“You could see the kids looking forward to coming down,” said Dolores. “At first you could see they were a bit nervous. But then you could see they looked forward to the change.”

Living in emergency accommodation, most of the children lived with their families in a B&B room. The Homework and Learning Club gave them another place to study and spend time after school, and afforded their parents a brief break too. The children also got to know each other and make new friends through the club.

“I think one of the things we were kind of worried about was would they keep turning up? But they did,” said Michael.

And as they got to know you, they’d come up to you if they had a math problem or something like that. Barriers broke down really quickly.

Dolores described seeing them come out of their shells and enthusiastically taking part in songs and games. One child even suggested everyone go around the room and share the “best and worst” part of their day.

“One day one of them actually said the best part of their day was coming to the Club, which was lovely to hear,” Dolores said.

“The two sides of what we were doing, the homework side and then the activity side, they engage with both of those equally,” Michael said.

“You could see them progressing and as the weeks were going on, you could see them getting more settled in the class. It took [the children] a little while to get used to all these people coming in,” said Eliosha. “But then you saw the change in the ease with which you were getting through the class. You could see how the kids were settled and more open with us and asking questions and having fun, and coming out of their selves a bit. It felt like we really were making a difference.”

Asked what kept her volunteering, Eliosha said,

You’d have such a good feeling coming out of the class, like you’ve really achieved something every time. Instant gratification and good feeling. That’s my selfish part!

“You’re hearing on the news all the time about homelessness and children in different facilities. I don’t think you can have an opinion on something unless you’re in some way involved,” she continued. “So by getting involved with the Club and the kids it was a way to make a difference.”

“You were growing, your relationship with the kids was growing, they were advancing that little bit more, and they were able to talk to you more,” Eliosha said, mentioning the diversity in the class.

“It was nice to be able to step back, you were constantly creating and connecting with them in fun ways. It’s very different from the way things were when I was in school… They loved the active songs where they’re moving and laughing.”

It’s nice to see even in their circumstances kids are so resilient and they can come out and be in the moment and laugh, and it’s really nice to be part of that in a tiny little way.”

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