Fighting homelessness at Christmas

Pictured at the launch of the Cork Simon Little Women's Christmas lunch, 6th January 2018, were Sherna Malone, The Celtic Ross Hotel, Christine Heffernan and Kerry McMahon, Cork Simon. Pic: Jean Luc Morales

Posted on: 11th December, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Pictured at the launch of the Cork Simon Little Women’s Christmas lunch, January 6, 2018, were Sherna Malone, The Celtic Ross Hotel, Christine Heffernan and Kerry McMahon, Cork Simon. All wearing outfits from Susu Boutique in Clonakilty. Pic: Jean Luc Morales

According to the most recent figures published by the Department of Housing, there were 282 people in emergency accommodation in Cork during the last week of October 2017 – an 18 per cent increase in 12 months. October 2017 saw the number of women in emergency accommodation in the South West increase by 88 per cent and the number of families in emergency accommodation increase by 86 per cent in 12 months.

Throughout October, Cork Simon Community provided an emergency bed for an average of 54 people per night. The nightly capacity at the Cork Simon shelter is 47 people per night. Cork Simon’s emergency shelter had to turn away an average of 10 people per night from its emergency shelter in October because it was full.

To address the increasing need for additional emergency beds, on November 1, Cork Simon Community opened a Winter Night Shelter with the support of Cork City Council. An average of 10 people per night have stayed at the Night Shelter since it opened.

Kerry McMahon from Rosscarbery is the Community Partnerships Manager in Cork Simon. Kerry’s role involves raising awareness of the organisation and engaging with various groups within the community who want to raise funds for Cork Simon. “It’s about communicating the value of fundraising in a community and getting people involved in a way that feels meaningful to them,” explains Kerry. “I’m very proud of all of the support Cork Simon receives from the West Cork area. There is a real compassion here for the homeless, with lots of people, even people in their 90s, sending in donations to us from West Cork.

“We have our biggest fundraising drive in December with the Cork Simon Christmas Jumper Campaign and then the Women’s Little Christmas lunches in January. We also have the Sing for Simon campaign this month – carol singing in the city centre. There’s no reason why people can’t do that all over the country; we organise the permit, buckets, jackets and so on and it’s really good fun for everyone involved.

“I think people do things and think it’s only a small contribution so it’s not important to the organisation, but it is so important,” emphasises Kerry. Every little bit helps. The aim in 2017 is to raise funds of €3 million in Cork and Kerry, which is a lot. We can’t plan to do things like the Winter Shelter if we don’t have more money. We also need homes that people can afford and we need the Government to move forward with the Rebuilding Ireland plan.”

Rebuilding Ireland is the Government’s plan to address the housing and homeless crisis. The plan includes provision for a significant increase to social and affordable housing builds, measures to control rising rents, resources for additional emergency accommodation and other supports, and policy changes to increase the supply of housing. Any significant impact is yet to be seen.

In the absence of any significant increase to the number of social and affordable housing coming on stream, and with the crisis in the private rented market continuing to deepen, Cork Simon has a plan to increase its own housing stock by 100 units by the end of 2019.

At present, there are more than 8,000 people in emergency accommodation in the State.

“Christmas is a very difficult time for the homeless men and women we work with, as they’re not with their families, so we aim is to make it as positive a time as possible for them,” says Kerry.

To find out more about Cork Simon and how you can help go to or call 021 4321 051.

West Cork lunch aiming to ‘open doors’ for homeless women in Cork

Tickets are now on sale for the Cork Simon West Cork Women’s Little Christmas Lunch, which takes place in the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery on January 6.

The theme of the 2018 lunch is ‘opening doors’ for homeless women in Cork.

This well-supported annual event, which is in its 12th year, has raised funds of over €125,000 in its lifetime for Cork Simon. This year, the aim is to raise €15K.

Restyled this year under a new organising committee, the glamourous lunch promises a menu of fun, fashion and lifestyle tips, all for a very good cause. Irish comedian Colm O’Regan, author of the Irish Mammy books, has committed to being MC for the afternoon and Joolie Collier, the London-based stylist to supermodel Jourdan Dunn will provide tips on fashion and styling advice.

Other names lined up to address the 200 guests include Jess Hatchett of Flow Yoga West Cork, who will discuss breathing techniques and stress management and nutritionist Allison Kingston, who will give simplify food tips.

The event, which runs between 12.30 and 6pm on January 6, will start with a fun G&T drinks reception and laidback lyrics from singer Ciara O’Driscoll before moving on to the four-course lunch with wine and inspirational talks.

Christine Heffernan of the organising committee says she expects women from all walks of life from all over West Cork to attend. “It’s a new take on an event that has been run very successfully in the past but the one thing that remains the same is that everyone at that lunch is there to support Cork Simon,” says Christine.

Tickets cost €55 and are on sale on, in the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery and Options Boutique, Clonakilty.

Homelessness is hitting Rosie hard. She has lost her home, has all but lost her daughter and is not far from losing hope.

Rosie, a woman in her thirties, came to Cork Simon’s emergency shelter well over two years ago. She’s now regarded as long-term homeless – stuck in emergency accommodation for more than six months because she has no other option. She has exhausted every option to find a place she can afford, a place to call home.

Rosie and her daughter became homeless when her partner walked out shortly before her landlady gave her notice to quit because she wanted to sell the house. As Rosie puts it, “My world started to unravel”. She and her daughter were placed in emergency accommodation – moving from room to room in various bed and breakfasts and hotels. As Rosie describes it, she started hanging around with the wrong crowd; she became reckless. They stayed with family too for a spell, but it was from pillar to post. Rosie says it wasn’t right or fair on her daughter. She volunteered her daughter into care – and it’s at that lowest point in her life that she arrived at Cork Simon’s door.

“Giving up my daughter was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” says Rosie.  She came to Simon, she says, to get her head together and to work towards putting her life back on track. She used to be a chef and would like to get back to work again, but without her own address that’s proving to be impossible. “My day is consumed with trying to find accommodation,” she says. It’s exhausting. Rosie has lost count of the number of flats and houses she has chased. “Landlords usually don’t give the homeless in Cork a chance.” She says her experience is that once landlords find out she’s homeless they say they don’t accept rent allowances or they come up with ways of fobbing her off. Usually they don’t even give her the time of day.

Rosie thought her luck was changing recently when she found a house in a town outside Cork City – it wasn’t perfect but it could have allowed her to get her daughter back. She was overjoyed, as finding a place to rent in Cork on rent allowance is almost impossible. But it wasn’t to be. The landlord somehow discovered that Rosie was homeless.  She got a text message two days before she was due to move telling her that the landlord had changed her mind. Rosie was devastated. She had already told her daughter about the apartment…and now she must tell her it fell through. “It’ll break her heart.” She gets cards from her daughter every week saying, ‘I want to come home’. She hangs them all on the wall beside her bed and looks at them every morning.

Rosie’s search for a place to call her own continues. But she’s losing hope. She’s losing hope of that one chance that could turn her life around and her daughter could be back with her again.

Latest News Articles:

Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat
Clonakilty town aims to get snowed under with the return of the Clonakilty Christmas Express
On call for Christmas
Have your say in shaping the future of Clonakilty
Dursey Island project passes first phase in Failte Ireland’s Grant Scheme

Join us on Facebook

Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
... See MoreSee Less

8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
... See MoreSee Less

15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

28th November, 2017  ·  

Jump to: