The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of our work. Our primary goal continues to be keeping everyone using our services, our staff and volunteers as safe and protected as possible.

Rapid response to the coronavirus threat

As the coronavirus took hold, we moved quickly to alert, inform and train our staff and volunteers to address the risks. We immediately introduced essential measures such as social distancing, use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hand sanitising.

Securing the necessary PPE quickly and making sure we have a constant supply, and training our staff and volunteers in its use were made possible by Cork's very generous support of our PPE Crowdfunded Appeal. Our supporters recognised immediately the importance of supporting these measures and responded thoughtfully and generously.

"This is my donation for the PPE to help protect the people protecting and helping the homeless people." - Donor to our PPE Crowdfunded Appeal.

It made all the difference.

Covid-19 a significant threat to people using our services

People experiencing homelessness are among the most marginalised, vulnerable and excluded people in Cork. Many are already in poor health. As such, the Covid-19 pandemic poses a very high risk to their ongoing health, safety and wellbeing.

Our teams of staff and volunteers at all our services are constantly reminding every man and woman they support of the importance of hand and respiratory hygiene, and the need for social distancing. Discussions around health, keeping safe and looking out for others have never been so much to the fore.

Re-orientating our services

Making sure everyone - people using our services, staff and volunteers, is kept as safe and protected as possible while the coronavirus remains a threat, required us to re-orientate our services:

  • All rooms in our emergency shelter are now single occupancy.
  • We have less space at our night light service so as to make sure everyone depending on it is appropriately socially distanced.
  • We have had to limit the number of people at any one time visiting our day service.
  • Our soup run is a takeaway service rather than indoors at our day service, but continues to operate every night.
  • Our housing support teams are conducting more and more virtual support visits to our tenants, but continue to visit the most vulnerable of our tenants while wearing appropriate PPE and observing hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • Additional and more regular deep cleaning at all of our services.
  • Our employment and training team had to suspend education and training classes during the height of the Covid-19 restrictions, but classes are getting underway again with all the appropriate safety measures.
  • We have had to suspend our activities programme for the time being.
  • All of these measures are working and will remain in place for as long as coronavirus poses a threat.

The impact on people using our services

All of the measures we introduced in response to the coronavirus threat were designed to keep everyone - people using our services, staff and volunteers, as safe and protected as possible. Cork City Council and HSE worked closely with us to make sure anyone with symptoms had somewhere to self-isolate safely while waiting for test results. Testing was prioritised - among people using our services as well as for staff and volunteers. Every effort was made to make sure an emergency bed was available for everyone that needed one.

But the threat of the coronavirus and the restrictions introduced to contain it had a big impact on the men and women we're supporting.

tells us of his anxiety around the onset of winter: "Coming into the winter I’m kinda a bit anxious whether or not I’ll be able to remain in the B&B that I’m in. If I have to leave, I’d end up rough sleeping, I’d have to drop out of college that I’m starting next week; I’d be back down the rabbit hole again."

'Frank' is also concerned as we head into the toughest months: "I would be worried about the flu because I won’t know whether it would be the flu or the Covid. This scares me and for the people that is living in the same house as me. The weather changing and I don’t like the cold even that I lived out in it, I felt all right out in that weather; but I wouldn't like it now because of Covid-19."

'Julia' sums-up succinctly the experience of many people turning to us for help: "I was afraid of catching Covid-19. I was worryed (sic) about people around me. I was feeling very alone and isolated from other people and myself."

Fundraising events affected

All of our services depend on your generosity and support. They are open and operating because of our dedicated and faithful donors.

We're very concerned that we have had to cancel community-based fundraising events since the Covid-19 lockdown last March. It denies our volunteers and supporters the opportunity to support us through these myriad of events throughout the year. This, in turn, is putting an enormous strain on our finances.

Some of these community events are going online - and can continue to be supported. But not all of them are online-friendly - and that's a worry. You can still support us by sponsoring a room or making a donation. Every euro counts. Thank you.

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