Cork’s Cope Foundation reflects on 2020

28 December 2020
By Bryan Smyth
bryan@TheCork.ie

Cork’s Cope Foundation reflects on what has been a year of challenges, closures, and incredible change

As the Chief Executive of Cope Foundation reflects on 2020, he cannot help but be impressed by how people right across the organisation adapted and faced the many challenges that 2020 presented. But this does not diminish his concern about the damaging effects the pandemic is having and will continue to have on the people supported.

File photo showing COPE Foundation entrance sign for a previous golf fundraiser
Picture Darragh Kane

Sean Abbott says, ” We were already experiencing funding shortfalls, so our organisation was completely thrown when Covid-19 reared its ugly head in the early months of 2020. With almost immediate effect, we had to close our day services, curtail our respite and multi-disciplinary services and carefully cocoon those living in our residential services. We could support people remotely using video calls and other forms of technology and staff right across the organisation worked hard to develop alternative ways to support people. As the situation progressed, each day presented new challenges, and we still find ourselves having to make some tough decisions.”

Due to Covid-19, the organisation had to support people differently and deliver its services in new ways. To this end, there have been some positive outcomes, and many of the organisation’s plans to provide more community-based services for people were fast-tracked and implemented.

The organisation’s fundraising efforts were utterly disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they developed online campaigns during the year to generate funds. Fundraised income was primarily needed for technology across the organisation. Its annual Christmas Draw had to move online this year and saw some well known Cork personalities promoting the campaign on Instagram and Facebook.

Sean continues, “Over the past few months, we have seen just how important technology can be when delivering services and supports; promoting independence; continuing learning, and providing people with options. Funds raised this year will help Cope Foundation offer more assistive technology to its centres and services to empower people supported and make everyone more “connected” during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The organisation wishes to thank every person who supported their work in any way this year. Looking ahead, Cope Foundation is determined to overcome the obstacles Covid-19 may present and plans to roll out some exciting changes and developments in 2021.

Sean concludes, “The past few months have taught us all how important our sense of belonging and community is. It gives us purpose. This year has introduced us to the concept of living with restrictions, having limited access to areas of our community and the inability to live our lives the way we want simply. I am sad to say, and this is a reality that people with disabilities face every day. As an organisation, we believe that society must and can be more inclusive and diverse so that the people we support can take their rightful place in their communities. There is a lot of work to be done to get there, and I know my colleagues, the people we support, our wonderful supporters and our entire community in Cope Foundation are passionate about advocating for this change.”

The organisation wishes to thank the Cork community for its support throughout 2020. To the 2,800 people supported by Cope Foundation, their families, and the 1,200+ staff, the organisation extends warm wishes for a safe and healthy Christmas and hopes that a kinder year awaits us all.

Fiona, who lives in one of Cope’s Foundation’s residential centres, enjoys a video call with her family. The organisation recently raised funds for more technology to keep people connected during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pic Darragh Kane

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