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Connacht Tribune

COPE volunteers provide the backbone that helps keep charity working

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The spirit of volunteerism is alive and thriving – helping local charities to fulfill the ever-increasing demand for services while at the same time contributing to the greater good.

COPE Galway relies heavily on its team of almost 200 volunteers – which is why, as part of National Volunteering Week, the charity this week held its third annual Volunteer Recognition Event in Salthill to thank all of their helpers for giving their time.

COPE Galway provides supports and services for those affected by homelessness, domestic violence and for older people. Its aim is to improve quality of life for these people in a home of their own by supporting home, promoting community and reducing isolation.

Cabrini McDaid, Neil Cronin and Patsy Kenny are just three of the people who use their time to help out at COPE Galway.

“What led me to it is my now-adult children are all grown up so I have more time on my hands,” explains Cabrini.

She had already been doing some volunteer work but was set on finding something different and that would challenge her. And so, Cabrini checked out COPE and became an activities coordinator for the organisation.

Her job involves meeting with COPE clients and getting information from them, she then goes in search of social or recreational activities that will suit the person and get them involved.

Fundraising is something Neil has done for years and he is now a fundraising volunteer for COPE Galway.

He started with COPE around ten years ago and is responsible for gathering spot prizes and setting up everything needed on the day of the events.

Patsy’s friend got her involved with volunteering around six or seven years ago. Her working week went down to three days so she had more time to help those who needed it and soon she began delivering meals to the elderly around Galway with community catering.

Connecting with businesses, clubs and other services to see what they can offer at a discount or for free is all in a day’s work for Cabrini.

“What I find when I contact people is that they are so willing to help,” she says – and she wants others to participate in volunteering and providing services so that COPE clients feel connected to the community and feel valued.

Neil worked in the electrical business for years and so knows a lot of people around Galway – a valuable asset when looking for spot prizes. He likes to go out and speak to people face-to-face rather than ring them.

“I find then that they can’t say no,” he laughs, “but I find people are good no matter where you go looking for something, you get it.”

Each Monday, Patsy does community catering, or ‘meals on wheels’ as it’s known. Before her route, she heads to COPE and is given a list of who wants a meal that day and she begins her day.

She not only delivers a nutritional meal, but also provides some conversation and companionship for the people she meets on her route.

Cabrini’s work as COPE’s activities coordinator has meant a busy time for her in this new role. Volunteering is a way to give back and Cabrini would encourage others to get involved.

“I think most volunteers will say that it’s a win-win situation; I’m getting a huge amount out of it and it is very fulfilling,” she says.

Neil and Patsy no longer work and dedicate as much free time as they can to COPE.

Patsy also helps with the Renmore Friendship Club. “It’s run on the same style as the COPE lunch clubs so we supply the meals from COPE,” she explains.

The Renmore Friendship club is every Tuesday and Patsy explains that four teams of volunteers take part – each team does one Tuesday per month – and they recently won a mayoral award for their commitment to increasing the quality of life for the elderly in the community.

The three volunteers would encourage others to dedicate any time they can to COPE Galway.

Neil enjoys his time at COPE and how there are no separations between volunteers and managers – everyone sits together and has a chat in the office and get along great.

Patsy feels the same, the people she meets doing community catering are always happy to see her and ‘everything is a chat and a laugh and friendship’.

Cabrini tells of how she approached a local hairdresser who offered her skills at a Galway hostel. Those who availed of haircuts felt valued and it boosted their confidence and she encourages anyone with any skills to get involved with COPE.

COPE’s 200 volunteers help in over 30 volunteer roles, including driver, kitchen assistant, food rescue, cookery tutor, befriender, day centre, lunch club, musicians, playroom support, health and well-being, physical activity, shop assistant, fundraising and administration and many more.

COPE have church gate collections around the county on June 17 and 18, a bucket collection at Oranmore Town Centre on June 23 and one at Barna Supervalu and they are hoping people can lend some time for these collections.

If you would like to find out more about COPE or would like to volunteer, have a look on their website

Connacht Tribune

Covid lockdown returns for Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has announced localised lockdowns for people living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the past week.

People from outside of those counties have been asked not to travel their unless for work or essential travel.

The restrictions affect travel, pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the clusters of new cases were of serious concern and described the restrictions as “limited”.

“Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time.

“These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.

They are in place for two weeks from midnight tonight (Friday) until midnight on Friday, August 20. The situation will then be reviewed,” the Taoiseach said.

Travel and transport

You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:

  • to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
  • to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes, food production or care of animals

You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly unless for essential purposes.

Public and private transport

You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.

Education and childcare

The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:

  • education and childcare
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks
  • Economic activity and work
  • Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.

Social

Cafes and restaurants

  • All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).
  • Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.

Indoor gatherings

  • All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.

Outdoor gatherings

  • Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.

Cultural and religious

  • All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.
  • Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
  • Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.

Sport

No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:

  • non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
  • professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
  • inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors

Residential and healthcare facilities

*Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).

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Connacht Tribune

Relocation homebuyers head to the west

Dara Bradley

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Clifden....popular destination.

The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged a new exodus of homebuyers to relocate to the west, with remote working now a viable option for many employees.

Galway’s busiest auctioneer has noticed increased interest in properties in the city and county from workers relocating from Dublin, its commuter belt and the Midlands.

The availability of high-speed broadband, which can facilitate working from home, is a determining factor in many homebuyers’ decisions to move to the West.

But the high cost of renting remains the single biggest incentive for people to get on the property ladder, according to Niall Browne, senior sales negotiator at O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.

“People are paying such high rent that it’s the equivalent to a mortgage repayment and that’s when you buy. That’s the biggest incentive to buy – you’re not giving away dead money,” Mr Browne said.

The property market locally had quietened in the initial months of the Covid-19 lockdown – but it has been buoyant in the past two months in particular, he said.

Mr Browne suggested there was an element of pent-up demand for housing that was now being realised as the Covid lockdown restrictions focused people’s minds on their desire to purchase a home.

“We typically try to get eight to ten sales per month by private treaty, and we had 28 or 29 last month. The previous month was six and the previous month was eight. This month (July) we’re up to 26, and that’s outside of our auction,” he said.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Nursing Homes shun student nurses over Covid fears

Stephen Corrigan

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Student nurses in Galway are facing financial doom as part-time employers shun those currently on work placement in hospitals over fears they are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19.

First year nursing student at NUI Galway Ciarán Mac an tSaoir told the Connacht Tribune that this had become a particular issue for first and second year students who would traditionally take on healthcare assistant roles in nursing homes, where the fear of spreading the virus is at fever pitch.

“After semester one in first year, you are essentially qualified as a healthcare assistant and a lot of students would take that up as an option. Since Covid-19 came in, a lot of work places are fearful of cross-contamination and that’s not unjustified.

“It’s very understandable that a nursing home wouldn’t want a student who might be going between five or six clinical areas in an acute hospital to be then coming into work in the nursing home,” said Mr Mac an tSaoir.

Nursing students, for whom a large proportion of their university experience is spent on unpaid work placement, spend up to 35-hours a week in a clinical setting and so that could mean them travelling between a Covid-19-free setting of a nursing home to a respiratory word in a hospital such as UHG, he explained.

However, this wasn’t a HSE policy but rather the decision of individual care facilities who were doing their best to ensure coronavirus was kept out.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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