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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

“It will be akin to the notorious Rahoon flats”

Enda Cunningham

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The Rahoon flats, which were built in 1972 and demolished in 1998, widely regarded as a failed social housing project.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – More than 700 local residents have signed a petition against plans for the construction of 330 apartments in Knocknacarra – which have been likened to “the notorious Rahoon flats”.

Child safeguarding concerns have also been raised by the principal of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh – who pointed out that the apartments will look directly into 19 classrooms.

A total of 27 objections were lodged against Glenveagh Living’s plans to build 332 apartments in six blocks – ranging from four storeys to seven storeys in height.

Locals have demanded An Bord Pleanála hold an oral hearing into the plans – that planning authority is due to make a decision by March 20, although it can decide to hold such a hearing first.

A computer-generated image of the Glenveagh plans for the site opposite Gort na Bró and beside Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh.

One of the objections – which accuses the developer of designing “tenement style” homes in a “blatant attempt to profiteer from the housing crisis” – was signed by more than 700 local residents.

Another objector said the development was “akin to the notorious Rahoon flats, with people being packed on top of each other”.

Locals have raised concerns about the huge number of apartments planned; overshadowing of homes; inadequate open space, playing pitches and community infrastructure; parking and traffic problems; low quality of design and road safety.

Glenveagh Living did not respond to a request from the Galway City Tribune for comment.
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the Glenveagh plans and objections, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Arts fraternity rallies as Theo faces deportation

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Less than a year after being invited by the Arts Council to perform at a conference about diversity in the arts, a musician, DJ and rapper – who is about to embark on a project for Galway 2020 – is facing deportation.

Theophilus Ndlovu left Zimbabwe after what he claims was a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to mind him.

His mother left when he was just six years old and he never met his father. He was placed in the care of an unofficial foster family but it was never a happy arrangement.

“These people I stayed with were abusing me. They were never my family. I was running away from persecution and abuse and the way I was treated by these people. I had to fend for myself since I was ten years old,” he recalls.

When Theo was 20, he saved up enough money from mowing lawns and selling chickens to escape, arriving in Ireland where he sought asylum. Authorities placed him in a Direct Provision Centre in Finglas for a fortnight before he was transferred to the Great Western Direct Provision Centre off Eyre Square, where he has remained for nearly four years.

Almost immediately, Theo felt at home.

“This is my family. Galway is where I found my voice. It has become my home. It is just where I’m meant to be.”

Theo has immersed himself in the arts community and has become a leading hip-hop artist, known as Touché, performing regularly at venues such as the Róisín Dubh and the Black Gate. He was instrumental in getting fellow asylum seekers and refugees involved in music collaborations.

He is a founding member of the multicultural music project ‘Atmos Collective’ and has facilitated numerous music workshops in Galway, “teaching, motivating and inspiring hundreds of young people along the way”, according to co-founder Alice McDowell, an Australian filmmaker and fiddler.

The collective was recently granted funding by the Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 committee to host community music workshops in the city and county over the next year as part of their ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ scheme.
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.

The petition is available online HERE

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CITY TRIBUNE

Regeneration funding sought for community centre

Stephen Corrigan

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A computer-generated image of the proposed communit centre in Newcastle

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – With a decision imminent on planning permission to build a new community centre in Newcastle, city councillors will be asked next Monday to support an application for major government funding to proceed with the project.

A motion by Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) will seek the approval of the City Council to make an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) – an overall fund of €2bn available for major infrastructural projects in cities.

Chairman of the Newcastle Combined Community Association (NCCA) Seamus Davey said that they expected a decision on their planning application by the end of January, and were hopeful of getting the support of councillors for this funding application.

“While planning permission hasn’t been granted yet – it has dragged on a bit because of a request for further information – we expect to have it approved soon.

“This project will be shovel ready and as soon as we get planning permission, we’ll have the engineering documents drawn up. As soon as we have funding, we’ll be putting it out to tender,” said Mr Davey.

The Council is set to reach a decision on the application on February 6.

The proposal for funding under the URDF has to come from the Council so it is crucial the project got the full backing of Council members, Mr Davey added.
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.

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