COPE Galway is a Galway charity that provides services to the most isolated in our community including a refuge for women and children affected by domestic violence, accommodation for those experiencing homelessness, and sustenance and social supports for older people at home.
COPE Galway are working with a number of service learning modules across the curriculum. In the year ahead undergraduate students from the School of Law Clinical Legal Education Placements programme will provide legal information sessions pro bono within the homeless residencies of Galway. Postgraduate students from the M.A. in Philosophy: Ethics, Culture and Global Change are researching the experiences of men within COPE Galway Fairgreen Hostel for men. The aim of the project is to dispel myths surrounding homelessness by highlighting the broad spectrum of people affected regardless of position within community, and by contrasting real life experiences of homeless people with the media representation of homelessness. As part of their postgraduate degree programme, the MSc (Information Systems Management) students have undertaken a service learning project with COPE Galway which requires the students to analyse the operations, focus in on a problem area, design a solution to that problem in consultation with the users, and develop and implement that solution. The aim of these projects is to allow the students to practice and apply the skills they have learned on the course, such as Web development, project management, database design, teamwork and interpersonal communications. Finally, marketing students will be developing the Community Catering branding throughout Galway city and county.
NUI Galway student volunteers through the ALIVE programme volunteer with COPE Galway as fundraisers and visiting the elderly in the Sonas Day Centre in Mervue, Galway. COPE Galway was selected by the NUI Galway Students Union as one of their four charities for the academic year 2009-2010. Fundraising events and activities held on campus by the Students Union throughout the year will go directly to the charity.
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Voices for Galway is a collaboration between the Galway branch of Down Syndrome Ireland and the Department of Speech Therapy at NUI Galway. A group of parents from the Galway branch of Down Syndrome Ireland formed Voices for Galway in 2005, their aim was to directly employ a Speech and Language Therapist for their members- both children and adults, as prior to this the service was almost non-existent.
When Voices for Galway was set up it initially supported children over six years who were of school age and were waiting a minimum of three years for Speech and Language Therapy. In 2007 the project was extended to include the three-six age group as they were getting no direct Speech and Language Therapy with the service providers since birth.
The collaboration with the Department of Speech Therapy at NUI Galway means that people with Down Syndrome can access Speech and Language Therapy, while Speech and Language students gain valuable clinical experience. Two full time Speech Therapists are employed by Voices for Galway and over 60 children and adults are receiving regular speech and language therapy.
Breda Mullarkey, one of the Speech Therapists employed by Voices for Galway, spoke a little about her role in the project, “I provide fortnightly speech-language therapy sessions to clients attending the Voices for Galway project with a home program for daily practice”. Breda notices significant progress being made in speech and language skills. She feels that “children are better able to communicate their wants and needs, and thoughts and ideas in their home and throughout their school day. They can socialise and play with their peers and are more easily integrated into the mainstream classrooms”.
The Voices for Galway is a parent driven charity, who receive no Government funding and must raise 100% of the finance to sustain themselves, this currently is €160k for 2011.
For more information see: www.voicesforgalway.org