CORK STREET PASTORS SPECIAL AWARD RECIPIENT FOR COMMUNITY WELBEING INITIATIVES
Pride of Place ceremony celebrates Cork’s community spirit
Friday, November 09, 2018 - 12:00 AM - Pride of Place Awards 2018, Irish Examiner newspaper."
Celebrating community spirit Dubbed the Oscars of the community sector, this year’s Pride of Place ceremony takes place on Leeside for the first time with over 800 entrants vying for glory, writes Helen O’Callaghan
Dubbed the Oscars of the community sector, the all-island Pride of Place Awards will be presented this month. And the awards ceremony takes place for the first time ever in Cork.
Pride of Place acknowledges the work communities are doing on both sides of the border, celebrating those who come together to shape, change and enjoy all that’s good about their community and environment. In particular, it rewards specific initiatives with long-lasting, positive community impacts.
Here we profile four of the Cork entrants among the 800 plus community groups vying to win Pride of Place gongs on November 17 in Cork City Hall.
Cork Street Pastors
“If it was our kids, we’d want them to get home safely,” says David Hoey, a volunteer with Cork Street Pastors, a multi-denominational organisation caring for people socialising on Saturday nights between 10.30pm and 4am.
In the late-night entertainment areas of Cork – as in any city – young revellers emerging onto the streets can suddenly find themselves in vulnerable situations. Cork Street Pastors help – with flip-flops, bottles of water, blankets and brushes and pans to sweep up broken glass.
“In the past six years, we’ve picked up just under 21,000 whole glasses and bottles on Saturday nights – which can then no longer be used as weapons and they’re not there for people to fall and cut themselves on,” says David.
The group has handed out just under 3,000 flip-flops to girls who come tottering out of night clubs and – unable to stay on high heels – try to pick their way barefoot amid broken glass and pools of urine. “Flip-flops help girls walk safely to a taxi and get home.” Cork Street Pastors has 18 volunteers from eight Christian churches – they provide their night-time assistance in teams of three to five.
Pastor is another word for carer. We want to express our faith without being overt about it, just by doing something practical in the community.
The group is also on the streets on special occasion nights: UCC Rag, Freshers, Leaving Cert results night. Each volunteer has a rucksack with thermal blankets (“for someone lying on the street, the alcohol has worn off and their temperature is dropping”), bottles of water for the dehydrated and lollipops, which have been known to defuse a fight if given at the right moment (“it takes 30 seconds to open the wrapper – sometimes just enough to calm things”).
Cork Street Pastors get feedback: “People come back to us, saying ‘thanks for looking after me – I was in a bad way last night.