Watch: Long-serving Cork Simon volunteer speaks about his early days with the charity

Watch: Long-serving Cork Simon volunteer speaks about his early days with the charity

Brendan Ryan first became involved with Cork Simon in 1973. Picture: Still from Cork Simon video.

A long-serving volunteer with Cork Simon Community has spoken about his early days with the charity.

Brendan Ryan first became involved with Cork Simon in 1973.

Now a voluntary Board member, Mr Ryan recounts Cork Simon’s early days and the shelter on John Street in a video recently posted by the charity.

Cork Simon, which works in solidarity with people who are homeless in Cork offering housing and support in their journey back to independent living, is marking 50 years in operation.

Over the next 50 weeks, Cork Simon will be sharing 50 stories of people connected with the organisation. 

Mr Ryan's story is the second in the series. 

In the emotive video, Mr Ryan spoke about how transformative the charity has been in Cork. 

"This was the early 70s - a lot of people who came to stay with us had been, for years, kept out of every other institution in Cork. 

"All of a sudden they had this place they could come home to.

"There was a genuine affection between those who were working as volunteers and those who were being provided with shelter," he said.

"It was wonderful and warm but you would never want to romanticise, this was an awful place made good by good people and by the extraordinary resilience of the Simon residents," he continued.

The charity's first emergency shelter on John Street opened in 1972 and remained until 1996 when the Anderson’s Quay site was opened.

"It was absolutely impossible to accommodate 40 people and do it properly and the solution was the site in Anderson’s Quay," Mr Ryan says in the video. 

He said his time spent volunteering with the charity has changed his outlook on life.

"I often say to people, it’s when you look back at being involved in Simon, you realise that most of what is alive in you now... most of the things that make you angry or make you feel good are connected with the experience of Cork Simon."

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