NUI Galway and COPE Galway Celebrate Successful Partnership

Monday, 11 July 2011

NUI Galway and COPE Galway have been collaborating successfully for a number of years across a wide and varied range of projects. The partnership was formally ratified in December 2009 where a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Professor James J. Browne, President of NUI Galway, and John Concannon, Chairman of COPE Galway. Since then, the staff, students and service users across both organisations have been immersed in projects which have been hugely beneficial to the both partners and ultimately the community of Galway.

A celebratory lunch was hosted recently by COPE Galway’s award winning Community Catering service, to celebrate this ongoing partnership.

A snapshot of some of the projects gives an idea of the range and benefit involved:

Occupational Therapy students became involved in COPE Galway’s Sonas Day centre for older people, in Mervue. One project undertaken was to set up a community website where the students worked with older people to identify interests and hobbies and custom built an easy to use website for the service. Links to regional newspapers, GAA and the CSO were set up to enable clients to have quick access to sites of interest.

A second project focused on joint protection and had three elements; group work with older people demonstrating exercises, lifting techniques and information in relation to protecting the joints. The second part was a staff information session and third element saw the students organise a community Gizmo and Gadgets session where people could try out equipment and aids, learn a few simple exercises and talk to the students about the issue.

Another occupational therapy student worked with two groups of older people over an eight week period to introduce them to the art of Tai Chi and to examine the effects of Tai Chi on the fear of falling.

A group of NUI Galway final year psychology students conducted a survey on the volunteers of COPE Galway’s Community Catering service. Community Catering provides daily nutritious meals to over 180 older people in Galway, and the service could not be provided without the invaluable assistance of over 150 volunteers. The survey sought to provide feedback to COPE Galway in relation to the motives, experiences and outcomes for Community Catering volunteers. This was a very useful piece of work and one which will help in the future in relation to providing adequate supports to volunteers.

Other projects included postgraduate students from the Management Information Systems course building a new Website for COPE Galway to improve ability to access and use a range of Social Media opportunities. This can be seen on www.copegalway.ie; a joint conference with the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) took place and a PhD study is on-going with the ICSG and the discipline of Marketing in NUI Galway, examining the role of community meals into the future.

It is clear, says Jacquie Horan, CEO of COPE Galway, that COPE Galway has benefitted in so many ways from this partnership. “Our clients, our staff, our systems have all progressed positively from our close association with NUI Galway and we look forward to continuing this productive partnership where new and exciting projects and opportunities are already being discussed and planned” she said.

Speaking at the lunch, President of NUI Galway, Professor James J. Browne said, “I am delighted that our organisations are working so well together, in a range of ways, to deepen civic engagement in the community.  Through this partnership, COPE Galway and NUI Galway are deepening student understanding of issues relating to the marginalised in society including homelessness, domestic violence and the elderly and our students are contributing to COPE Galway’s work programme.  Our organisations have co-hosted a number of conferences, including one with the University’s Centre for Social Gerontology in 2010, and we are continuing to work on research and research opportunities appropriate to our common objectives through final year projects, PhD research and individual academic research. On behalf of NUI Galway I am proud of this collaboration, which enables us to put our stated commitment to civic engagement into practice with COPE Galway.”

 ENDS

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