THE annual Christmas Fast and Fundraising campaign for SHARE has once again been launched for the 2017 festive season.
Year in, year out, this campaign provides essential support for Cork’s vulnerable older population, thanks to the hard work of the SHARE committee and all of the secondary school students that brave the elements to raise funds for this extremely worthy cause.
In 1969, Brother Jerome Kelly, the then Headmaster of Presentation Brother College Cork, challenged his students to go out onto the streets of Cork and identity a pressing social issue that caused them concern. Each group of students was confronted by the same reality; bleak and depressing living conditions, particularly for a wide number of older Cork residents. They found elderly individuals dwelling in appalling living spaces, such as cramped attic and basement flats with makeshift defences against the cold. Many of these people were feeling unwanted, fearful, isolated and lonely. On a mission to remedy this situation, the organisation we know as SHARE was established by Brother Jerome and his students the following year in 1970.
This year, the Chair of the Student Leadership Team is Ben Corcoran, who together with his peers carries on this age-old tradition by overseeing the campaign with one key goal: to ensure the successful continuation of this Leeside institution.
Here, Ben speaks about his role with SHARE and what the experience means to him:
“Despite the technological advancements in our world, I often wonder why it is that the most vulnerable elderly people in our society, who have contributed so much during their lives, can end up in the worst situations. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the people who benefit most from SHARE and if there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that social isolation can happen more easily than you might think. This is particularly true for those who find themselves in a situation where they do not have the support of family due to bereavement, emigration or the breakdown of relationships. Isolation, no matter what the cause, can leave people hungry, depressed and fearful. These emotions are certainly amplified during the holiday season.
“Young people like myself often have a tendency to forget that we would not be here today without the legacy created by our grandparents and our great-grandparents. The opportunity to volunteer with SHARE has given me new purpose and not to sound too clichéd, but it has certainly given me a life-altering change in perspective and has reminded me of how the older generation has paved the way for my friends and I.
“SHARE gives students such as myself a chance to meet new people from the other 21 schools who are on the Student Executive and to form friendships with the residents and service-users of this charity.
“This year those involved in SHARE are also partaking in a new element that has been added to the campaign, whereby a number of students, who have been specifically trained, visit members of the public living with dementia in order to give their family and carers some quality respite time. This visitation programme, which is ongoing, provides two-hour weekly visits to six people living with dementia. Two students and one adult volunteer visit at a time and will keep that person company by sharing a story or two or simply sitting with them and providing a comforting presence.
“I often wonder why I do not spend more time with elderly people and you will also find yourself thinking this once you sit down and have a conversation with an older person. They have a perspective and wisdom that can only be achieved through spending a lifetime on this planet. We’re so quick to ignore the contribution that elderly people can bestow upon society that we often don’t even request their opinions. Through my involvement with SHARE, my eyes have now been opened to how wrong this is.
“Older people in particular often struggle to manage heating, medical bills and day-to- day tasks. While this may not be the case for everyone, for some people the onset of old age can bring life-altering changes in lifestyle. Many individuals who were once independent and active find themselves wondering what to do or how to obtain a reasonable financial income. My advice to everyone is simple: if you know any elderly people, don’t hesitate to offer your assistance if and when you can. Quite often, people are too ashamed or proud to ask for help. Take some time out of your schedule to contribute to someone who made your world a possibility.
“Times are always challenging. Although SHARE, amongst other similar organisations, has made a significant impact with helping elderly people, we often find that it is never enough. I also want to remind people that SHARE only fundraise once a year, so whatever we do receive goes to sustaining all the services by SHARE for the year ahead. We’ll be out fundraising in the rain, hail and snow over the coming weeks, so please dig deep and donate if you see us. Decked out in our yellow, we are hard to miss! All we ask is that the people of Cork and Ireland contribute what they can, when they can.”
WHERE TO DONATE:
Members of the public are invited to visit the SHARE Crib at Daunt’s Square, Cork (near Grand Parade) or visit their cribs at Mahon Point, Merchant’s Quay, Wilton, Blackpool, Bishopstown Court, Douglas Court, Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Riverview Shopping Centre in Bandon and Ballincollig Shopping Centre.
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. See www.sharecork.org