Bob Meldon is proud to call himself a resident of one of SHARE’s warm, bright and welcoming housing units.
Originally from Co. Wicklow, Bob, 81, moved to Kerry with his parents when he was nine years old and has since been living in various locations around Ireland and England, where he moved as a middle-aged man in search of work, having endured hard times in his career.
Now, the Wicklow native finds himself settled and happy in one of the apartments based at the Brother Jerome Kelly Day Care Centre on Sheare’s Street and he couldn’t be more grateful for his current situation.
Speaking to the Evening Echo, Bob explained: “I came to Cork about six years ago. I had been working up in Roscommon and then I retired and my dog died shortly after. I have three daughters who live in Cork, so I came down to be with them.”
The SHARE resident has high praise for his family, paying particular tribute to the devotion of the ladies in his life. “Daughters are great people, you know that?” he quips.
“I wouldn’t be alive today without my three daughters; they look after me very well. One of them lives in the city, there’s one out in Carrigaline and the other is on the move at the moment. I see all three of them at least once a week – maybe even twice or three times. I’d be lost without them.
“I have a son in Dublin and we talk occasionally on the phone. I love him dearly and we’re great friends, but he’s just not in the vicinity so I wouldn’t see him as much.”
Both Bob and his family are equally thrilled and relieved to see him so settled in his new apartment, where he has been living since May 2017, following a tough few months at the beginning of the year when the father-of-four’s living arrangements were suddenly in jeopardy.
“I was renting in Carrigaline and my landlord decided to sell the place,” he explains.
“I’m on rent allowance and it’s just impossible to find a place. There’s a limit on how much you can spend on rent if you want to get rent allowance and there’s nobody prepared to give you accommodation at that price.
“When the landlord told me that he had to sell up, I spent three months climbing the walls, asking myself: ‘What am I going to do?’ I was looking for places but there wasn’t a chance of finding anywhere and I just didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I found myself constantly worried all the time that I’d be put out on the streets, that the landlord would get rid of me, but I don’t have to worry about that anymore here.”
He continues: “I was very lucky to get a contact at SHARE. It’s unbelievable this place – it’s amazing. I love it here. You receive every bit of protection you need in every way but you’re still free to come and go as you please. I have my own little apartment and it’s mine and I’m not afraid that my landlord will throw me out. It’s taken a huge worry off my mind.”
Aside from his wonderful new residence, Bob is quick to recognise the other many services that SHARE provides for those in its care.
“The security and everything you can think of in the way of safety is here and yet I’ve got full freedom,” he says.
“I can come and go any time of the day and night I want.”
Although it is a slow process, as he himself admits, Bob is also beginning to form friendships with his SHARE neighbours. When asked if he has made any friends since moving to Sheare’s Street in May, Bob said: “I’m making them. I’m a bit slow, a bit shy. I find it hard to talk to strangers if there’s a bunch of them, but one-on-one I’m not too bad. I want to get to know people and remember their names – I’m a terror for forgetting names!”
The names that Bob is unlikely to forget any time soon, are those of the staff that work tirelessly to ensure the comfort and everyday happiness of each of SHARE’s residents.
Speaking fondly of the team at the Brother Jerome Kelly Day Care Centre, he says: “The relief I have experienced since the people of SHARE looked after me and offered me the place here is hard to describe. The ladies that run this place are fantastic – they’d do anything for you and they’ve made it so easy for me to get settled. It really is an amazing place. It’s a very happy place to be and the staff here are always in good form – they can’t do enough for all of us.”
Speaking about Christmas, a time of year that is integral to SHARE as the funds raised during the festive season enable the organisation to continue to operate on a daily basis, Bob has one thing on his mind; family.
“I’ll be having Christmas dinner with one of my daughters out in Carrigaline,” he explains, “It’s her turn to do the family Christmas. She’s got a little girl. Lindy, my middle daughter, will be there, as will my eldest daughter Sally, who has a son in his late 20s, so we’ll all be together.”
He adds: “You hear so often of families fighting with each other, but my girls get along extremely well. We are lucky to have a good family situation, so I’m looking forward to a very happy Christmas with them all!”
During the annual ten-day Fast & Fundraising Campaign, which kicked off on Thursday, members of the public are invited to visit the SHARE Crib located at Daunt Square in Cork or to visit SHARE cribs at the following shopping centres: Mahon Point, Merchant’s Quay, Wilton, Blackpool, Bishopstown Court, Douglas Court, Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Riverview Shopping Centre in Bandon and Ballincollig Shopping Centre, where any donations are welcome.
Alternatively, donations can be posted or delivered in person to SHARE, The Brother Jerome Kelly Day Care Centre, 43 Sheare’s Street, Cork where acknowledgements will be issued immediately.
To follow the SHARE students on their annual ten day Fast and Fundraising campaign see facebook.com/SHARECORK and twitter.com/sharecork, or use #TimeToSHARE or visit www.sharecork.org
SHARE, the organisation that cares for Cork’s older people in 146 secure housing units around Cork, has begun their collections again this Christmas.Today and tomorrow we hear the stories of Share residents themselves, how they have benefitted from the organisation’s work.