COPE Galway is calling on local business leaders to join the fight against homelessness by taking part in their 10th annual Business Leaders’ Sleep Out on Friday 3 December.
In speaking about the homelessness crisis in Galway today, Sleep Out founder and former COPE Galway Board member, Hannah Kiely said, “Since we set up the Business Leaders Sleep Out 10 years ago, the need for these funds has unfortunately increased year on year. Homelessness in Galway is never far from our lives; it doesn’t just happen to ‘somebody else’. People are under a lot of pressure in terms of property availability and rental costs and this has seen the profile of those experiencing homelessness broaden over the years”.
In 2012, a small group of business people started the Sleep Out in response to a growing crisis emerging in Galway. “We saw increasing numbers of people sleeping rough and felt we needed to do something about it, we made a point of being out on the street ourselves,” Hannah recalls.
While homelessness on the streets is more visible, there is also a hidden homelessness in Galway, where people are couch surfing or living in temporary accommodation. “There are 198 children living in emergency accommodation today in Galway, some for long periods of time. Families, single people, young and old are all facing very real challenges in finding housing,” continues Hannah. COPE Galway supports people to move on from homelessness, secure accommodation, set up their homes and sustain independent living as well as providing skills development and befriending initiatives.
The Business Sleep Out has grown over the past 9 years, attracting over 137 business leaders to jump outside their comfort zone and raising over €1million for COPE Galway’s Homeless Service. The funds have allowed the expansion of services and introduction of new initiatives such as community-based housing, outreach support for people sleeping rough and more recently, the swift adaptations to ensure continuity of service during the challenges of the pandemic.
Reflecting on the nine Sleep Outs to date, Hannah says she has been moved by the stories of people she has spoken to while out on Shop Street. “What is so profound about taking part in the Sleep Out is the understanding that develops when you are out on the street, seeing the situation first-hand and the coming together of people who want to make a difference. The fact that many have taken part more than once demonstrates the uniqueness of this fundraising event”.
To take part or to sponsor a participant visit www.copegalwaysleepout.ie or phone COPE Galway on 091 77 87 50.