Galway continues to buck the national trend on homelessness – because while the overall figure showed a small fall-off in recent months, the number of people in emergency accommodation in the West actually increased.
That’s according to the Simon Community as it launched its new campaign, Closing the Door on Homelessness.
That aims to build on the success of its efforts over the last year, which saw Simon Communities around the country ‘close the door’ for more than 2,400 men, women and children – helping them move out of homelessness and into a secure home.
That homelessness and housing crisis is being felt acutely in the West with 534 people, including 199 children, in emergency accommodation in hotels, hostels and B & B’s at the end of June.
And those figures contrast to the national picture which actually saw a decrease in June, meaning that Galway Simon is busier than ever as it marks its own 40th anniversary this year.
Karen Golden of Galway Simon Community said that the vision remained the same for the country’s Simon Communities as it has over its half-century history – supporting those experiencing homelessness to find a place that they can call home.
“The end goal remains the same today as it was in 1969 – making home a reality,” she said.
“We continue to protect those who are at their most vulnerable and help them change the course of their lives by providing the physical door to a home of their own.
“We are helping people to close the door on the mental strain of homelessness, on fear, insecurity, addiction or ill-health,” she added.
Through the Closing Doors Campaign, Simon hopes to raise awareness of the experience of homelessness and how the charity is helping people find somewhere safe they can call home.
The Simon Community was founded in Ireland in February 1969, when a small number of volunteers made up of students from University College Dublin and Trinity College, packed up their flasks of soup and sandwiches and set out on the streets of Dublin to provide food and support to people experiencing homelessness.
In 1979, a number of volunteers and students at NUI Galway similarly started a soup run in Galway, and Galway Simon Community was formed to support those experiencing homelessness in the West.
Pubs to remain closed and restrictions on gatherings unchanged
Pubs and nightclubs will not be allowed to open next week, while restrictions will remain in place on indoor and outdoor gatherings, as the Government decided to postpone Phase 4 of the Roadmap to Recovery for a second time.
It will also become compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and shopping centres from next Monday.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin made the announcement this evening, adding that the current situation will be reviewed again in three week’s time.
Asked if pubs would reopen at all this year, the Taoiseach said that due to the way the virus spreads, the Government “cannot give any guarantee right now2.
“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly and inextricably to an increase in community transmission.
“I want [publicans] to know that I have enormous sympathy for their plight. The virus is taking away their ability to earn a living. It is stopping them from providing a key service in the heart of many communities.
“We have to heed our Chief Medical Officer and NPHET [the National Public Health Emergency Team] advice and we have to keep the pressure on this virus.
“I know this will come as a bitter disappointment to many people; the Cabinet has agreed to continue with the current public health measures that are in place. Pubs, bars, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed.
“The current restrictions on numbers attending indoor and outdoor gatherings will remain unchanged [50 people indoors and 200 outdoors].
“We will review the evidence again in three weeks’ time.
“This virus has not changed. It remains as virulent as ever and it is constantly on the search for new people to infect. It remains completely indiscriminate in its cruelty. But as dangerous as it is, we have shown we can beat it. Each one of us has the power to suppress it,” the Taoiseach said.
At a press conference tonight, Mr Martin also said that pubs which are currently trading (with food) will have to close at 11pm.
The Government has also announced that five locations – Malta, Cyprus, San Marino, Monaco and Gibraltar – have been removed from the so-called ‘Green List’.
Influx of visitors heightens Covid fears
Local health chiefs are planning for the worst case scenario of a second surge of Coronavirus brought on by domestic tourism – as ‘staycationers’ from parts of the country where the virus is more prevalent carry it into the west.
There has been just one new confirmed case of Covid-19 in Galway in the past week, and just a handful of new cases in the past several weeks.
But the authorities fear tourists from parts of the country more affected by the virus will result in an increase here during August and September.
There are also concerns that there are not enough beds in the public health system to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 alongside regular winter hospital admissions.
Tony Canavan, CEO of Saolta, which manages public hospitals in the West, at the HSE West Regional Health Forum this week, said health workers are anxious that the deadly virus will spread to the West, as the reopening of society continues.
“There are concerns among those working in the health system associated with Government plans to reopen society and the economy, even though we know that is absolutely necessary and important for the well-being of the population as a whole.
“But the concerns we have relate to the greater movement of people whether it’s going to and from work, or going about their business, whether it’s attending the shops or entertainment events and so on, and that greater movement of people creates an environment where the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is increased.
“We’re particularly concerned in the West and North West, that there would be a level of movement of people associated with tourism at this time of year,” said Mr Canavan.
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Chanelle McCoy unveils her clinically proven cannabinoid cure
The usage of CBD food supplements to treat a whole raft of illnesses and conditions in recent years has given rise to concern that many of the products currently on the market are being sold to consumers without any clinical trials to verify their safety.
It was the rise in demand for these products that first caught the attention of well-known Loughrea business woman Chanelle McCoy who this week, together with her business partner and fellow Galwegian Caroline Glynn, launched the first CBD product on the Irish market that has been clinically proven to be safe – Pureis.
Chanelle, whose family business Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea has a proven track record in the medical world, stepped back from that venture five years ago to focus on her own Chanelle McCoy Health.
“My family business in Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea and so I’ve worked there for about 18 years. When I joined the business, it was a veterinary business and my father and I co-founded the medical side of the business. Then I was lucky to have the opportunity to lead that medical business over the last 18 years with a great team and with Caroline working with me,” says Chanelle of the beginning of her working relationship with Caroline.
“We bought the medical business into 96 countries around the world and we got over 2,500 product licences granted across those 96 countries. We would be looking at products in terms of what to put into the R&D pipeline and I started looking at CBD back in 2015, probably inspired a bit by Vera Twomey and the inability for moms like her to access good quality CBD products for kids like Ava,” she says, explaining that Cork woman Vera Twomey’s plight to secure cannabidiol treatment for her daughter’s epilepsy was a real eye-opener.
Read the full feature in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.