Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, COPE Galway Day Centre outreach team headed out early every Thursday morning to reach out and support people who were sleeping rough on the streets of Galway City. Recently, the service increased to four mornings every week with the aid of newly recruited volunteers.
David Byrne, (1st from left) Advocacy and Policy and Outreach Service worker, talks about the new extended service.
What we’re doing on a basic level is engaging with those who are rough sleeping in the city, offering them warm drinks, breakfast, and checking on their wellbeing. These people can experience isolation and marginalisation, they may not aware of our services and therefore may not link in with us.
So, on a basic level we offering a cuppa tea or a coffee, but what we are actually trying to do is start conversations, build relationships and trust.
There’s very limited work we can do on the street, so we try to encourage people to come to the COPE Galway Day Centre where we can link them in with other services.
The Day Centre works with individuals and couples without children who are homeless. We primarily work with those who are rough sleeping, staying in emergency accommodation, and those accommodated in the Cold Weather Response service.
At the Day Centre they get laundry done, use showers, get a change of clothes and internet access. There is health services such as a appointments with a GP, nurse, a podiatry clinic and help with dental appointments. We also offer assistance with social welfare and housing, and refer or link them in with other relevant services.
For many, the Day Centre the first port of call, so our role here is sitting down with individuals and seeing what support they need. It’s about them identifying their own needs and telling us, and then us working with them to access those supports and entitlements.
It’s very easy to just walk by people who are rough sleeping. It’s very easy for them to disappear and be invisible. We do have an issue with rough sleeping in the city. Don’t just walk by and look the other way, it’s terrible to be sleeping out, but it’s terrible to be invisible as well.
Support our outreach service
If you are concerned about someone who is sleeping rough, please contact our outreach team – call the Day Centre on 091 525 259. Our operating hours are Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.00pm and Saturdays, 8.30am to 2.00pm.
We always try to go out to people when we get calls, so that really helps. If it is safe to do so, encourage the person to contact or come to the COPE Galway Day Centre and let them know we are here to support them.
We also need volunteers. People who can give an hour or two and join our outreach team for our early morning outreach. Volunteers are essential to our outreach work. If you are interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org and you get more information on how to become a volunteer.
“Our volunteers are all different, they have different backgrounds. I think that’s important because homelessness is not a homogenous group. So it’s good to have people from different backgrounds with different ideas on the team. Everyone is welcome to join!”