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Cafés join scheme to provide ‘suspended’ coffees



Suspended coffee scheme in Galway City

Three Galway City cafes are among a network of 1,800 coffee shops across 20 countries which give customers the chance to buy a ‘suspended’ coffee for somebody down on their luck.

The Suspended Coffees scheme, founded by unemployed Cork plumber John Sweeney, was borne out of a tradition which began in Naples, Italy.

Legend has it that if a citizen of Naples happened upon good fortune, they would buy themselves a coffee and an extra cup which was suspended for someone less fortunate. The ‘barista’ or coffee maker would keep a log of any extra paid-for coffees and when anyone who had fallen on hard times would enquire about a suspended coffee, it was duly served and chalked off the ledger.

The national tradition ‘Caffè Sospeso’ continued until Mussolini’s downfall.

John read about the resurrection of the practice in a blog by a visitor who watched as a succession of customers both donated and redeemed the suspended coffee, no questions asked.

The father-of-four had suffered an industrial injury and was out of work for months. He decided to use his free time to reignite the scheme by setting up a Facebook page and ringing cafes to sign up.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea. My goal was to get two or three cafes on board. Then all of a sudden it blew up in a way I could never have imagined. It’s been a really big journey. Things have really taken off.”

For nearly two years, John has worked on the project almost full-time, with the Facebook Page at last count attracting 280,000 followers. The website is full of stories where people do acts of kindness and quotes that may help brighten up someone’s day.

There are plans to develop other aspects to the project that will benefit people down on their luck. With the whiff of bad press about charities still in the air, John is keen to stress that he will never take a penny out of the venture, which is run completely by volunteers.

“People say what good is a cup of coffee when somebody is homeless, hungry and cold. But it’s much bigger than a cup of coffee. If somebody is going to the bother of buying a coffee for someone else it could start something else,” John explains.

“The most simple act of kindness can have the largest affect, just a hello or a smile can have a huge impact. There’s quite a big homeless population in Cork and I make it my business to go and talk to homeless people and bring them for a coffee and ask how are they. You can see the look in their eyes, it gives them a small bit of hope,” he said.

The three Galway cafes which take part in the scheme are Pura Vida on Quay Street, Java John’s on Francis Street and Coco Café on Eyre Street. The Mobile Brew Crew which travels to different locations has also signed up.

Rob Kenny in Pura Vida has been offering customers the chance to buy a coffee and put one on the slate since Aummer 2013.

“It was very popular when we started out. At one point we had 26-30 coffees rung up, then people started to ask for them,” he said.

“It’s funny we’ve noticed a lot of people asking for the coffees are from Dublin – also a few of the lads from the Fairgreen [homeless hostel]. At the moment we probably do between five and 10 coffees a week, we’ve 18 on the slate at the minute.”

Cafes which are not being asked for the suspended coffees can donate the money to a charity of their choice, with many Irish ones choosing to give the money to the Simon Community.

“We have one café in Waterford where the owner Aoife goes out to actively look for people to give the coffees to. Another one knows his customers so if Mike down the road has been looking for a job for six months or there’s a single mother of three who comes in, they shout it.

“Or it could just be somebody who’s had a really bad day. That happened in Australia. A businessman who saw something in his own house he didn’t want to see left to walk the streets. He went to get a coffee and discovered he had no wallet. He was about to leave when the guy behind the counter offered him a suspended coffee.

“He later returned and bought $800 of suspended coffees. That’s what it’s all about – starting something bigger than just buying a coffee.”

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run



A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda



Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway



Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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