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Students help homeless before they head home!

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This week sees thousands of third-level students depart Galway, with the last exam wrapped up – many of them dreading the thought of throwing out all those needless bits and bobs accumulated over the year.

But their clean-out burden can be lessened by NUI Galway’s Rover Society, which has come up with a way to help the homeless and departing students at the same time.

The quick-thinking society is passing on unwanted items to those who desperately need it with by hosting collections in student accommodation hotspots around the city.

From now until May 20, students and the public alike can stop off at a designated collection point and leave their items to be enjoyed by those in need.

Clothing, raingear, non-perishable foods, socks, footwear, blankets duvets, arts materials, books and DVDs are just some of the many items which can be donated for use.

“We are absolutely delighted with the response we have received so far,” said Rover Soc’s Projects Officer Fionn Delahunty.

“We’ve taken in countless boxes amounting to over 50 bin bags worth of useable items within the last three weeks. We’ve drawn in the assistance of over 20 core Rover Soc volunteers, in addition to great support from the university,” he added.

Collection points include many spots within NUI Galway’s campus, including the Students’ Union Shop and Office, Smokie’s Café and the Engineering Building. Other areas include Corrib Village, Gort na Coiribe and Menlo Park Apartments.

Certain areas were of particular interest to the Rover Soc, as volunteers were street smart in choosing their pick up spots.

“In Gort na Coiribe, students are required to bring and take away their own duvets,” explained Fionn.

“That means that around 100 duvets are dumped every semester from the complex. We knew that targeting this area would mean securing such much needed basics for the homeless, while recycling at the same time,” he said.

All items will be donated to COPE Galway’s homelessness service.

“We are delighted with the efforts made by NUI Galway’s Rover Society,” said Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway.

“These are items that people may otherwise struggle to get due to being homeless, and are of invaluable worth to those who we work with. The ongoing generosity of students in Galway is really appreciated and makes a big difference to the services that we can provide.”

The Rover Society is aimed at those who are currently involved in Scouts and Guides clubs, or for those who have no experience but would like a taster of the scouting world.

Though their main ambitions involve outdoor pursuits, the society is no stranger in getting charitable.

Last year, they made headlines collecting over a whopping 1,000 sleeping bags at the Electric Picnic festival for the homeless in Galway.

The astounding feat came as part of the society’s “Festival Phase” which involves volunteers heading to the end of big events and collecting what may have otherwise been thrown away.

The group also collected almost 40 pop-up tents at last year’s Sea Sessions event, which they then cleaned, recycled and sold at an affordable price to students.

This festival season, the society has high hopes in their bids to get the idea of reusing and recycling spinning.

“We are hitting many events this summer, and Electric Picnic will again be one of them,” said Fionn.

“We want to build on the amount of sleeping bags we received last month – and hopefully double or even triple what we received!”

CITY TRIBUNE

€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara

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How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan

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The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham

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Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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