13 December 2019
By Bryan Smyth
True Christmas spirit will be felt on the streets of Cork City over the next two weeks, as hundreds of students from 22 schools across the City don the familiar yellow jackets and rally the troops for the annual SHARE (Students Harness Aid for the Relief of the Elderly) fundraising effort. The iconic SHARE crib will be lit up on Friday December 13th which will mark the beginning of a collection that has been a cornerstone of Christmas in Cork for the past 50 years.
From 13th– 24th December, a number of students will take part in the annual SHARE 24-hour fast, and in-keeping with tradition, students will man the crib daily in the run-up to Christmas. Students will collect right up until Christmas Eve, raising much-needed funds for a charity that has looked after the elderly in the region for half a century.
Speaking ahead of the launch Chair of the Executive, James McCarthy said,
“Come wind, rain or hail, every year, students from all over Cork come together for this extremely worthy cause. It is a tradition we are immensely proud of and a cause that is so close to our hearts. This is always a really special night in the city and anyone who attends will tell you that there is a real air of care, community and Christmas spirit.”
Áine Cogan, SHARE executive, also spoke of the extra special nature of the 2019 SHARE charity drive,
“2019 marks the 50th year of the fast, which first happened the year before SHARE was officially founded – and it’s fitting that it is this year the crib will move back to its original location on Patrick’s Street, outside Gentleman’s Quarters – the spot where it was first erected back in 1970. For those of us involved, SHARE holds a special place in our hearts. Any time we willingly give up to volunteer, we get back 10-fold and we are all privileged to be able to spend time with the older generation of Cork. The people we meet along the way have a lifetime of stories and it’s an honour that they share them with us on our weekly visits.”
McCarthy explained the importance of this time of year for the SHARE community,
“The Christmas collection is our sole fundraiser for the whole year, which is why getting people behind it is so important to us – and they always do – in their droves. The people of Cork, and visitors to our city, year on year, continue to surprise us and warm our hearts with their generosity and support for what we do.”
The students of the SHARE community are also the real heroes of the story as they volunteer each week throughout the year and spend quality time with the elderly in the SHARE community.
It’s a sad reality that old age leaves many people lonely and without family or friends, though this does not apply to all SHARE residents – it is these students who provide our older generation with the comfort and the companionship that is often missing in their later years.
The launch event on Dec 13that 6.00pm will be attended by the Rt. Hon. Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr John Sheehan, Most Rev. Fintan Gavin Bishop of Cork and Ross and Rev. David Bowlesrepresenting Dr. Paul Colton Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, a host of students and residents, and many friends of SHARE, for what promises to be a highlight in the Christmas 2019 calendar.
Since its foundation in 1970, SHARE has provided a unique link between students and the elderly. It has created a blueprint for positive engagement between students and the elderly community, word of which has spread nationally and internationally.
Since its inception, SHARE has tackled the housing crisis for the particularly vulnerable elderly people of Cork City. Evolving over the last 50 years, the organisation, led by students, runs 140 homes in the area, across seven different locations. Students visit these homes on a weekly basis, offering much sought-after social engagement. In addition to this, the Brother Jerome Day Care Centre caters for up to 125 clients each week, offering a social environment, hot meals, fun and activities.
SHARE also provides medical and social support through its Day Care Centre on a daily basis, which involves an activity coordinator and support staff. In addition, the HSE provides a nurse and two care assistants who help the clients secure the extra resources and help they require.
In recent years, SHARE has piloted a dementia outreach programme, to visit those living with dementia in the wider community. Where, once vetted, an adult volunteer and two students go on these visits for two hours each week. In addition to keeping the person living with dementia company there is a benefit to the carers as it allows them the freedom to take some time out for themselves, as normally they could be on call 24/7.
Those wishing to support SHARE can donate at www.gofundme.com/f/share-
· May 1976 – 12 houses built and furnished at Clochán Barra, Coach St
· Dec 1976 – Accommodation provided for 13 people in 3-bedroomed furnished houses at Glendalough, Grenville Place.
· Dec 1977 – 11 homes provided at Ard Mhaca, Sheares St
· Feb 1978 7 – One-storey houses built and furnished at Skellig, Rope Walk, Sundays Well
· Dec 1978 – 13 houses completed at Cnoc Mhuire na Toirbhirte, Fair St
· May 1979 – 19 houses completed at Cnoc Mhuire Seandún
· Nov 1980 – Accommodation for 18 people at Teach Chill Chré, Dyke Parade
· Dec 1980 – 15-house complex, Gougane Barra, Abbey St
· Dec 1983 – Ardfert Village, 21 houses at William O’Brien St
· Dec 1988 – Dún Rís, 32-home complex at Grattan St
· Nov 1993 – SHARE’s 200th home was opened as part of a 42-apartment complex at Ard Iosaef, Blarney St
· Dec 2000 – Br Jerome Kelly Day Care Centre opened at Sheare’s St to cater for 50-100 people daily, offering medical and social support, as well as fun and warm meals.
· Feb 2017 – Redeveloped 20 bedsits into 10 apartments
· 2019 – Currently remodelling 8 homes in Mount St JosephFollow TheCork.ie (The Online Newspaper for Cork, Ireland) on social media