This week, hundreds of Cork students from 22 different schools will take to the streets in yellow jackets as part of SHARE’s Christmas fundraising drive.
SHARE (Students Harness Aid for the Relief of the Elderly) was founded in 1970 by Brother Jerome Kelly, the then Headmaster of Presentation Brothers College.
The organisation is responsible for a wide range of services for older people in the Cork community. They provide supported independent living in 140 housing units across seven different locations.
The charity also piloted a dementia outreach programme which sees vetted adult volunteers and students visiting people living with dementia.
Other initiatives include weekly visits between students and older people, as well as activities in their day centre.
The Chair of the SHARE Student Executive is James McCarthy. “Each and every one of us who is involved in this amazing campaign is privileged to have the opportunity to do something positive for the older people in Cork.”
Mary Burke lives in one of SHARE’s homes in Cork city and she says it’s now her home.
The Ardmore native didn’t always live in Cork. She was sent to boarding school in Clonmel and then moved to the UK to pursue a nursing career, which spanned 30 years.
She worked in Harley Street, where she says she nursed ‘the high and the mighty’ such as Margaret Thatcher and the Queen Mother.
However, she wanted to return home when she retired, but finding suitable accommodation in Ireland was difficult. “I was looking for a decent flat everywhere, but the bathroom would be on one floor, the room two floors up, the curtains were filthy.”
Luckily, she found SHARE accommodation and she now lives in the Dun Rís complex. “I was very pleased with it. Everything was done for me. It was painted and everything.”
“It’s great, we have our own garden on the ground floor and across from it is the big sitting room and dance room.
“I’m 17 years at SHARE, and it’s my home.”
Bridget Anne Murphy, one of the people who is helped by SHARE. Picture: Gerard McCarthy
Bridget Anne Murphy joined the SHARE community in September of this year. “I really like it very much, and I’m settling down very well,” she says.
The SHARE Christmas party takes place in their daycare centre on Sheare’s Street and brings together all the residents from the SHARE accommodation around the city.
“All the crowd are great and thank God all are in good form, [there’s] a nice table of us down there,” says Bridget.
Bridget also liked to reminisce about her childhood Christmases. “I had a great time. I used to love going to town with my Mammy… I used to go all around… sometimes we spent so long in a shop we would get a biscuit.”
Anthony Coughlan, who lives in SHARE accommodation. Picture: Gerard McCarthy.
Anthony Coughlan is another person who avails of SHARE’s services. He says he is looking forward to Christmas this year because he will be spending it near Mallow, surrounded by his grandchildren, daughter and family.
The 65-year-old will make the trip from Grattan Street in the city where he has been living in one of SHARE’s complexes for the last two and a half years.
“SHARE has done an awful lot for people who are living alone… everything is provided for in the SHARE areas,” says Anthony.
Having suffered ill health, Anthony lost mobility in parts of his body, and he now requires assistance and space for rehabilitation.
Anthony says his daily exercise is “good for both the back of my leg and the head as well…and better than any physio.”
“I find this complex very good for me because I’ve had two strokes, and it is secluded living.
“There is an area I can exercise and walk in every day with no one interfering with me, and I find the neighbours very good. They ask me how I’m getting on.
“I’m at home here, and I’m very happy I got the place here.”
Anyone wishing to donate to SHARE can do so at the crib on Patrick Street (opposite the Gentleman’s Quarters), or directly to the students as they collect in the city centre.