The Echo speaks to students across Cork who have been speaking out about social issues that matter most to them as part of the Young Social Innovators (YSI) Speak Out Week.
Students of Regina Mundi College in Ballinlough chose the topic ‘Helping Homelessness’ for their YSI project.
Teacher and YSI co-ordinator Paul Farrell said the class chose this topic as they discovered how widespread the problem is and how greatly it is affecting peoples’ lives.
Cork Simon Community supported almost 1,100 men and women in 2019, with more people than ever turning to the community’s homeless emergency services for shelter, care and support.
More than 450 stayed in Cork’s Simon emergency shelter and night light services in 2019, an average of 61 people per night.
Mr Farrell said that the class wanted to play its part in trying to make a difference for these people who are living without any homes.
“We gathered information and statistics for our project. Everyone played their own part,” he said.
Mr Farrell said that the aim of the project was to help people less fortunate than us living without homes to get back on their feet.
“Everyone deserves a second chance, and we want to help people to achieve this,” he said.
Some of the ways in which the class intends to help homeless people are by hosting fundraisers such as Walk for the Homeless and no uniform days and to donate the funds raised to local charities working with homeless people.
The class also aims to raise awareness through the project by spreading information on homelessness to peers and to inform people of the ways in which they can help.
All 4th-year students were involved in the project, as well as teacher and TY coordinator Paul Finn.
Those involved were: Diane Butler, Zara Casey, Kelly Collins, Abbie Ellis, Molly Field, Loren Flynn, Eva Kavanagh, Caoimhe Lennon Buckley, Caoimhe Lynch, Rachel Mansfield, Ciara Maye, Rose McCabe, Éabha McCarthy, Meabh McCarthy, Alison McManagan, Sophie O’Brien, Amy O’Callaghan, and Heidi O’Sullivan.
Mr Farrell said that the YSI project “nurtures creativity” and ignites arguments, discussions, and emotions, placing the students “very much as the leaders of their own work”.
“YSI recognises that young people are the future, and it is important to allow their voices and ideas to be heard. It also allowed the students to look at social issues in their area.
This developed a sense of awareness of the positive and negatives aspects of their local area,” he said.
He said that it also allows the students and their peers to make small changes in their day-to-day lives which is an awareness that he said will “help make a greater change” both now or in the future when they might be in the position to make even greater change.
Mr Farrell said that Regina Mundi College’ motto of ‘Sapientia et virtute’, which means ‘with wisdom and courage’ and its motto of ‘each for all and all for each’ shone through during the students’ YSI project as he could see them working on the project “with a passion to help people”.
“The enthusiasm and empathy the girls showed during this project was evident and it was clear that the girls wanted to make a real difference to the homelessness crisis that both Cork and Ireland face.
“The students worked very hard at home also, as we had a long time working remotely as a school. This did not stop them from their goal of raising awareness on homelessness,” he said.