When Margaret Coleman first saw the job advertisement for Emergency Accommodation Coordinator with COPE Galway’s Family Support Service, she knew it would be a challenging position. Nonetheless, she was drawn to the role and went for the interview. She got the job. And she loved it.
“It was really fast-paced when I started and I learned a lot in a short space of time about providing homeless services for families” Margaret said of the role, which she held for three years. “With lots of problem-solving involved in the role, you really felt like you were achieving something every day.”
Unsurprisingly, this busy role required her to wear many hats, from interacting and managing relationships with local hotels and B&Bs, to liaising with COPE Galway’s project workers, who worked directly with clients. Three years on, Margaret felt she had learned so much in the role that she was ready to progress and develop further. Feeling increasingly pulled towards the client-facing side of COPE Galway’s homeless services, she applied internally for project worker positions. At the time, she was told that while the organisation valued her experience and knowledge, a social care qualification would be required for a key working role.
With an education in human rights and gender studies, Margaret didn’t want to embark on another four-year degree. When she found the Higher Diploma in Arts in Applied Social Studies (Professional Social Care) at IT Carlow, it struck her as the perfect solution. She successfully applied for COPE Galway’s Training & Development Fund and was supported to pursue this year-long course. She was also able to complete her placement with COPE Galway. Completing the diploma, while working full-time, was an intense commitment and Margaret sings her colleagues’ praises for their support, particularly during the busy final semester. “The placement was the most beneficial part of the course,” Margaret said, because she was able to apply the areas she was learning about to a practical setting.
In August 2021, Margaret joined COPE Galway’s Resettlement & Tenancy Support Service team as Community Housing Support Worker, where she works with single individuals who live in community houses after leaving emergency accommodation. “It’s kind of like they’re given an opportunity to get onto a solid footing,” she explained, adding that people who are affected by homelessness come from every background and walk of life. “Everyone has different support needs — for some clients, I might be supporting them with basic needs like food and filling out forms. Other clients need emotional support, and for others it might be higher support, such as linking the client to relevant mental health services or helping them pursue full-time education.”
“I didn’t know exactly what I was good at when I started with the Organisation, in my first role with COPE Galway, I started to realise that my heart was in working with clients, and that was a strength I wanted to pursue.”
COPE Galway’s Training & Development fund offers employees the opportunity to continuously learn new and innovative ways to work which will ultimately lead to better service provision for our clients. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.