The difficulties that lead up to me seeking help from COPE Galway was the break up with my husband. I had no one to turn to here, no family.
It was so hard after being independent all my life and never asking anyone for help. That is the hardest thing I’ve done, having to ask someone else for help, that’s what I thought, but I was walking the streets of Galway, and I saw a sign above the door for the Samaritans. I was walking up and down the street for about half an hour before plucking up the courage to ring the doorbell.
When I got inside there was a very relaxing atmosphere. The lady I was talking to did not judge me and was very supportive and gave me a name of a woman’s refuge which was Waterside House. I went to Waterside, but they had no free rooms and told me of another homeless hostel at Salthill called Osterley Lodge.
I went to Osterley Lodge and they had rooms and took me in. I was talking to a member of staff, and she told me that I would have a Key Worker appointed to me that would look after me, fill out forms and help me sort myself out. If my Key Worker was not in, I could talk to another member of staff, you were never on your own.
The staff was there if you wanted to talk and get things off your chest or just have a good cry. They never judged you in any way. They would advise you on getting benefits and also helping you find accommodation and if you needed someone to go with you to view a property, they would go with you. They also encourage you to get involved in activities that are going on.
When I left Osterley Lodge I got a Key Worker from the Resettlement Office. I could ring her and make an appointment to see her and we would discuss how I was getting on and if I needed any support in any way with housing, making phone calls to the authorities, or any form filling that I was unsure about, she was there to help me out.
It was so good to have someone on the end of the phone, they are really good at keeping in contact with you. It is reassuring to know you have someone to turn to and you are not on your own. They also let you know when there are events going on to find out whether you are interested in going along.
It is a great way of meeting up with new people, making new friends, some of the people you meet are in the same position as you are and you can relate to each other when people have been in the same position as you are. There might be something you can help them with or the other way round.
The advice I would give to people is not to let you pride rule your head, because there are people and organisations out there that are willing to help people when their luck is down and they are not judgemental at all. Anyone can be down on their luck at some time, so just look around and see the support that is out there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
COPE Galway creates stronger, healthier communities and reduces isolation. In association with the local community, the charity supports people to live independently and safely in their own homes and neighbourhoods, thereby reducing isolation. For more details on COPE Galway, see www.copegalway.ie, call 091-778750, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.