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Surge in demand for COPE Galway’s services in past year


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Surge in demand for COPE Galway’s services in past year Surge in demand for COPE Galway’s services in past year

A  Galway domestic abuse charity had to deal with a “staggering” ten crisis calls per day as demand for their services surged by over a fifth in twelve months.

In its annual report, which was launched last week, COPE Galway revealed that just under 850 women, and 226 children and young people in the city and county were supported by their domestic abuse service in 2022.

The charity, which also provides homelessness supports and a seniors’ service, provided refuge to some 116 women and 157 children at Modh Eile House (pictured) – COPE’s refuge accommodation for the victims of domestic violence based in Galway City.

“Since our relocation to Modh Eile House in May 2020, we take immense pride in our ability to provide immediate refuge to every woman and child in need of safety,” state COPE in their report.

“Our highly skilled team facilitated 3,874 crisis calls [in 2022]. Combined with an expanded outreach service, in total, we extended support to 617 women and 226 children in 2022.”

The report notes that demand for domestic abuse services is rising as survivors “acknowledge that responsibility and shame lie solely with their abusers”.

Across its services, COPE provided supports to just under 3,000 people in Galway last year.

Over 1,200 people were supported by COPE through their homelessness services last year, including 303 children who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In its report, the charity details the challenges it met in dealing with the winter last year, having lost its dedicated ‘Cold Weather Response’ (CWR) facility in April 2022 – a service that seeks to provide emergency accommodation rough sleepers in Galway City.

“In Summer 2022, Galway City Council and COPE Galway actively sought premises in Galway City for the operation of a CWR for Winter 22/23.

“Unfortunately, despite best efforts, no suitable premises could be identified. This led to huge concerns amongst staff for the safety and wellbeing of people who were rough sleeping in the city and fears for what the winter would bring during a worsening national homelessness crisis,” states the report.

To address this, COPE said that four of its homelessness services worked together to organise a “fresh approach”, drawing on the experiences of their resettlement team to “enable people to make swifter moves back into the community than would usually be possible”, and so freeing up spaces in their Fairgreen Hostel and Osterley Lodge facilities.

The report also revealed that COPE supported just over 900 older people throughout 2022 – and provided 71,000 meals though delivery to people’s homes, lunch clubs and also throughout COPE Galway services.

The emphasis of senior supports in 2022, according to the report, was to encourage the rediscovery of confidence in meeting up with friends, family and neighbours in the wake of Covid restrictions.

“Throughout the year, our community support workers arranged activities and sought opportunities to encourage socialising.”

Elsewhere in the report, it is noted that COPE has 180 employees and around 200 regular volunteers working with them in 2022, putting in 31,330 volunteer hours.

The charity’s total income for the year was €10.84 million, €1.65 million (17%) of which was made up of fundraising while the rest came from various sources – in the main State agencies.

The HSE was its largest funder, providing 30% of all revenue; Galway City Council provided 27%; 17% came from Tusla, the child and family agency; and Galway County Council provided 0.3%.

The overall cost of providing services in 2022 amounted to €8.9 million, the largest proportion of which was on homeless services (48%), followed by the domestic abuse service (20%) and the senior support service (12%).

12% of their expenditure went on support services generally, while 8% was spent on fundraising, marketing and communications.

Speaking at the launch of the annual report, CEO Michael Smyth said the community and voluntary sector was operating in an increasingly unsustainable environment and said Government must step in to rectify this.

“It is unacceptable that we must depend on charity or philanthropy to cover 26% of our costs in delivering essential services to the people of Galway,” he said.

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