Eileen’s first contact with COPE Galway was in 2019. She became homeless while in an abusive relationship and experiencing drug dependence. At that time, she also felt isolated and ostracised by her family. She became a resident of Osterley Lodge, our Supported Temporary Accommodation (STA) for women who are homeless.
COPE Galway Community Based Housing Plus (CBH+) Service commenced in November 2022. The aim of the service was to use shared scatter site houses in Galway City to accommodate single person households living in STA hostels. The service provided people with an alternative to hostels, fostering independence and a chance to reintegrate into the community.
Osterley Lodge, where Eileen resided, was one of the participating services. Eileen was offered a space in a Community Based House with three other women, which she was delighted to accept.
Each person availing of COPE Galway Homeless Services is assigned a keyworker to work with them on a one-to-one basis to identify goals and together formulate a care and support plan. Relationships are at the heart of this work and the one that Eileen built with her keyworker, Paula Nolan, was hugely positive.
Eileen currently works at a technology manufacturing company, which she says is going well. She is due to meet with a life coach soon which will be a new experience for her. Paula set up these sessions after she asked Eileen what she’d like to do with her life, and Eileen voiced a desire to help people and maybe work with children. “I’ve always felt that, but I’ve just never done anything about it. I’ve just been stuck in a rut – but not anymore.”
Safety is especially important for women in our services, given their experiences of trauma. In a recent survey, women in COPE Galway services reported high feelings of safety in their accommodation.
Eileen’s partner, who is currently in a UK prison, has repeatedly made attempts to get back in contact with her, something she has not engaged with. Eileen is now in a space where she feels she can open up to some members of her family, which is hugely positive for her. Still, she feels she benefits from a neutral ear and values the support of Paula and the confidence she instils. “She really wants to see me doing well.”
Paula has also recommended the support of COPE Galway’s specialised Domestic Abuse Service to Eileen, which is open to her if at any time she feels it would be of help.
Eileen is currently engaged in an Opioid Substitution Treatment programme for drug addiction. She said that there was a point when she was on the verge of death, but that drugs are no longer a focus in her life.
“Now I keep myself around positive people and stay away from that scene. It’s a constant battle but I’m doing well so far. I just want to make my family proud and make a better life for myself”.
Eileen is hopeful she’ll be able to start saving money and move into her own place through Housing Assistance Payments, ideally closer to her sister whom she describes as the “best person in her life”.
“There’s a lot more positive in my life now,” she says, “I see a better future now. I see there is a better life out there.”