Archive for the ‘Homelessness’ Category

Too much, too little and two mishaps

December 10, 2017

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

We’ve had two wonderful days at The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, which included the most incredible feast of fantastic food that you could imagine.

On our first night we treated ourselves to the tasting menu, which was a feast of the senses, delivered by a superb team, led by Adriaan Bartels who are passionate about great service and introducing customers to some amazing food that you would never taste otherwise.

The Wagyu beef from James Whelan Butchers was my favourite of all the amazing dishes on the tasting menu, which came with a well chosen matching wine selection of five different wines.

The following night we ate in the bar and as expected this meal was also incredible – I couldn’t resist the set menu with a selection of starters, desserts and a choice of main courses.

Of course we also indulged in a delicious breakfast each morning, which was a feast in itself.

Cliff Walk, Ardmore

Eventually it was time to leave after two fantastic days of indulgence, rest and recuperation and even some exercise as we did the breathtaking Cliff Walk and a long walk on Ardmore beach.

We headed back to Cork as we were due at the Cork Chamber Christmas lunch, which was at Fota Resort.

After all of the rich food we had eaten over the two days at The Cliff House, I was in the horrors at the thought of eating another morsel of food!

At Fota the perplexed waiters and waitresses came to us a few times questioning why we didn’t want the smoked salmon starter – was there something wrong, did we have special dietary requirements?

I explained that my special dietary requirement was that I didn’t need a starter as I was simply stuffed!!

I managed to eat most of the main course and I did have one little taste of the dessert – I was glad when the meal was over with, as I just wasn’t able.

I glanced around the room at the capacity crowd as together we ate the fine food, and drank the wine and indulged in the satisfaction of a positive year and a well earned Christmas break that would soon be here.

What are your plans for Christmas?” and “Are you taking much time off?” were the popular questions being asked at each table.

I reflected on my uncomfortably full stomach and the room full of festive spirits, and I thought of those who were cold and miserable today and would love nothing more than a hot meal in a warm room, let alone entertain any thoughts of an indulgent Christmas with friends and family.

I also reflected on a thought provoking podcast that I had listened to on the journey to the Cliff House, just two days before. It was the Legends and Losers podcast by Christopher Lochhead and the particular episode featured the inspirational founder of ‘The Giving Spirit’, Tom Bagamane. This is a non-profit in L.A. that helps the huge number of homeless people in the city.

One of the big messages in the episode was that most people are just two mishaps away from being homeless – job loss, poor health, relationship breakdown, bereavement and mental problems are all mishaps that can easily throw any of us upside down, if they come knocking at our door.

Many of the homeless are not the stereotypes that we may often think they are.

Kathleen O'Sullivan

This morning I read about 43 year old, Kathleen O’Sullivan who had been found dead, wrapped in blankets in a doorway in Cork city. Apparently, ‘big hearted, kind, caring’ Kathleen who was suffering from emphysema and pleurisy hadn’t recovered from the death of her child a number of years ago.

We all deserve our breaks and we most definitely deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labour, but we mustn’t forget about those less fortunate than us, and remember that we are all just two mishaps away from being on the streets.

Merry Christmas to all..

A big thanks to Bernard MacNamee who brought me these powerful lyrics from the Kirsty McColl song, “Walking Down Madison

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park
Oh no, it’s not that far

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Rugby, Our Good Life and Bandages

November 13, 2017

Ireland versus South Africa

When your taxi driver starts chatting thoughtfully to you about inequality and homelessness you know that it’s a huge penny that’s dropping with everyone.

(Interestingly, our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has just received huge criticism for commenting that the levels of homelessness are quite normal in Ireland compared to other countries!)

I was making typical, idle conversation with the driver about “how business was with him” and how it must be much better, that we are out of recession – he responded by saying, that “he knew where I was going with the conversation

Yes, things were much better but definitely not for everyone. The rich are getting richer, while others are struggling to survive

He spoke compassionately about the homeless people that he passes every day (we passed many of them on our taxi ride) and mentioned the fundraising that the taxi drivers do – they won’t give them money but they will give them food and essential items.

I mentioned the little piece of work that we had done with Dublin Simon and added my observations – you just feel like you are putting a bandage on something, but actually achieving very little. However, that bandage is required – until the bigger issues are tackled successfully, plenty of bandages are needed.

We were in Dublin for the Ireland v South Africa rugby match – I’m not into rugby but did feel privileged to be able to watch the match in the magnificent Aviva Stadium.

Of course the tickets were expensive and we also bought the other extras including headsets and match programmes. There was a non-stop procession of people walking past us throughout the match with their trays full of beer. I did wonder if many of them were there to watch the game or just drink beer and have the craic!

During our stay we ate well and drank too much, taking our taxis from place to and we stayed in the fine Croke Park Hotel.

We are the lucky ones to be able to afford to do this.

Jonathan Corrie, Homeless man in Dublin

I was asking the driver about “this” side of Dublin as it still seems to be very run down with a few spots here and there that seem a little better.

The driver pointed out the properties that a company called Key Collection had in this part of town. There were lots of individual properties with a distinctive black door that apparently they let out on short term lettings.

The driver expressed his surprise at the locations of these properties, but he explained that they will make much more money on these short term lettings rather than renting them on a permanent basis to families and other people who need them.

He reckons this is a real shame, but reasoned that money wins at the end of the day – we agreed that it was a good thing that at least someone was investing in these properties (probably acquired cheaply) and this would help to improve these parts of the city.

He also pointed out to us some of the drug areas in the city as we drove by, and he filled us in on which drug family controlled each.

I don’t think he was very happy with this “cosmopolitan Dublin” that he felt he didn’t know as well as he did before – “we can’t lose the friendliness that we were always renowned for”.

As he dropped us to the train station his conclusion was that greed was ultimately driving all of this inequality. Is it greed or is it something else?

I guess when we don’t know how to solve these bigger problems, when we don’t know how to get beyond the bandages, do we just concentrate on looking after ourselves?

…Our good life

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Jenny, Oh Jenny – what have we done?

September 8, 2017

Gilabbey Park, Jenny Dennehy

Thank God it’s Friday we all think..

It’s been the end of another busy week as we all go about our thing.

In my case its been hectic, another week working between our Dublin and Cork offices, team meetings, lots of work, busy meeting clients and prospects.

Friday night means a trip to Dunnes Stores on our way home to do the shopping and to stock up on lots of nice goodies and tasty treats for the weekend as well as the basics. Yes, of course there will be bottles of nice wine, some beer and maybe even a bottle of gin, if we are running low.

The dogs are always thrilled to see us and they seem to sense that it’s Friday and they will see more of us in the next few days.

We’ll put the shopping away and take them for a stroll and when we come back it’s on with the grub and either head to the local for a drink or three or get together with our great friends.

The weekend is full of possibilities, things to do, fun to be had, visits to my folks, catch up with my kids and watch some football.

Before we turn off the light we will probably watch something on Netflix until those eyelids get too heavy.

Eventually the light is turned off and we comfortably slip under the covers waiting on a blissful Saturday morning to greet us…

 

…Jenny was evicted from her flat.

Jenny managed to get a tent from Cork Simon and she found a nice spot in Gilabbey Park to pitch it.

Jenny turned in on this same Friday night but never saw Saturday morning.

Jenny – God knows why everything started to go wrong for you and God knows why no one was there to give you the help you needed.

Jennifer (Jenny) Dennehy was found dead in a tent in Gilabbey Park, in our city in the early hours of Saturday, 2nd September 2017. According to all the reports there were no “unusual circumstances” – if you think about it, this is the most ridiculous statement ever.

There were all the usual declarations of shock and horror by politicians and a family asks for us to respect their privacy.

For a few days we all talk about the shocking housing crisis (we can build commercial buildings efficiently and without a problem but when it comes to housing our “people”, well that’s just something we are not very good at, or  being very truthful it just isn’t lucrative enough) and then move onto another topic until we have another Jenny.

Jenny, we are all to blame.

Jenny, Rest In Peace

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Amy and Adam – are we all to blame?

May 5, 2017

My McCarthy

Amy McCarthy, a beautiful 22-year-old mother of one-year-old baby Adam, was found dead in a disused building on Sheares Street in Cork last Sunday night.

Apparently, this old building, which is in the centre of town and one that I have walked past a thousand times is often used as a squat for homeless people, alcoholics and drug users.

The Gardai are still apparently investigating what happened to poor Amy and have not ruled out foul play.

This happened in our city, under our very noses and I found myself wanting to find out more about this young girl to try to get some clue as to how something so wrong could have happened and if anything could have been done to help her.

If you look at her Facebook page it shows you a young girl who seemed to have a lot of friends who were all happy to admire baby Adam anytime that Amy posted a picture of him. It looks like he was born in March of 2016 and Adam O’Keefe is the father and her boyfriend.

What was Amy doing in this place on Saturday night and what happened her?  

Adam O'Keefe

26-year-old Adam O’Keefe, her boyfriend was arrested on Monday in Cork as he seriously assaulted another man in the city – the newspaper reports seem to indicate that Adam has been living in various charity temporary accommodation and this attack was due to the fact that he was ‘upset’ and intoxicated because of what had happened to Amy.

Adam was refused bail as it was felt he was a risk because of his vulnerable state. I wondered what was his story? Why was there no one with him at this clearly traumatic time – prison is a really great solution for this troubled kid.

His Facebook page reveals a young man originally from Midleton who was quite excited about Amy’s pregnancy over 12 months previous:

Amy McCarthy and Adam O'Keefe

my girlfriend 6 mtns pregnant and I swear 2 god I cant wait 2 b a father best thing ever luv u babe far eaver“.

Why was Adam living in temporary accommodation and where was he on the Saturday night that Amy died?

Where are the families of these two young people and what will become of their baby? Was she not living at home anymore? Did anyone try to help them?

While we might find out some of these answers in time, what is certain is that these two young people have been left down by our society, somewhere along the way.

At some point in their lives, they were unlucky and things took a serious turn for the worse.

Instead of getting the help, assistance or intervention that they desperately needed to set them on the right path and keep them safe they have fallen tragically.

Are we all to blame?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

The same ticket but not the same

April 16, 2017

We were on the North East Corridor train heading out from Penn Station in New York to Metro Park in New Jersey to spend a few days with my brother Colin and his family.

On a commuter train to suburbia it’s hard not to observe the other passengers and wonder about their stories and their lives.

There was a guy sitting across from us, I’m guessing in his twenties dressed all in black with headphones on – every now and then he would sing along in Spanish. Many of the public signs here are in English and Spanish, which surprised me.

There was an African American guy, again in his twenties wearing a green hoodie and a baseball cap under that, also listening to his music.

An older guy sat alongside us wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a grey top and an unusual pair of Crocs on his feet. He also had a crutch so this probably explained the footwear. He looked a little dishevelled so maybe he wasn’t having the best of days.

The ticket collector came around – he takes your ticket, then produces another ticket, punches a hole in this and then clips it behind you under a little metal clip. He does this for each of the people around us.

He comes to the guy next to us, the grey tracksuit guy, who takes his ticket from under his sock and produces it for inspection.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer tells him. The passenger looks confused.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer repeats, this time with a little more intent.

He looks confused and asks “Why?”

I’m not touching that, it’s been in your sock” he says.

The poor guy in the tracksuit never felt better I’m sure. His bad day, week, month, year or decade was confirmed in front of his fellow travellers and he quietly accepted this instruction and tore his ticket in half.

The ticket officer was able to go ahead with his job without having to touch the offensive ticket.

This was an unpleasant and unnecessary exchange between two strangers and at what cost?

Would it have been so hard just to take the piece of paper from this fellow human being and treat it like all those other pieces of paper, equally and with respect?

However, we are not equal.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

A Tale of Two Cities and The Cork Opportunity

January 7, 2017

One Albert Quay, Cork

With busy offices in both Dublin and Cork I am in the privileged position of witnessing both cities up close and personal and with the nature of our work we get close to many of the key issues and challenges.

In Dublin I am a Council member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and in Cork I have been working on various marketing initiatives for the region so I guess I have a unique perspective. The recent Connecting Cork initiative by Cork Chamber has the city proactively connecting with our business diaspora around the globe.

Undoubtedly, there are terrific opportunities but there are also big challenges that must be addressed if we wish to seize them and Cork can play a pivotal role in ensuring that these opportunities stay in Ireland.

We hear the fantastic headlines on the news everyday about the many companies announcing new jobs but we also hear about how much demand there is for housing and the limited supply of high quality office space in the locations that contemporary businesses and their talented employees want to be in – high quality, accessible urban destinations with an attractive lifestyle mix.

While unemployment levels are half what they were at the peak of the recession the headlines are dominated with news of sky rocketing rents and the resulting social issues due to the huge imbalance of supply and demand for housing. The brave ‘Home Sweet Home’ campaign with the occupation of Apollo House has just put a huge spotlight on the issue of homelessness, which is in part a consequence of an improving economy.

So, it doesn’t always quite feel that we are succeeding.

While I am hugely proud of Cork, my hometown it is vital that Ireland has a strong, effective capital city to rival any in Europe. As part of my role in Dublin Chamber of Commerce we regularly feed into briefing documents and housing has been clearly identified as the number one issue for Dublin followed by infrastructure.

At the moment, it feels to me that Dublin is “broken” and it needs radical fixing so that the opportunities that present themselves can be seized without causing further problems for those living and working in the city.

The government for obvious reasons were unable to prime the development context to support the housing, office and hotel development that urban Ireland really needed. It also failed to really get to grips with the major infrastructure deficit in Dublin and we are now in major catch up mode.

To complicate matters further the management of the city of Dublin is totally fragmented, which makes cohesive planning and effective action extremely difficult.

The private land and property sector can shoulder some of the blame but there are huge tracts of brownfield land and property owned by State Agencies in Dublin, which should have been primed for development in 2012,13 and 14 for delivery now.

We talk about the genuine opportunities for Ireland as a result of Brexit but you must question if we could honestly cope with them if they came to fruition. If we are struggling with major issues for those living here now, are we crazy to be still talking about attracting even more businesses and talent?

Getting the companies here and then trying to sort out homes, schools and transport for the people afterwards will not be that easy.

ireland

While we proudly proclaim that “Ireland is the best small country in which to do business” we are in real danger of this message changing to “Ireland is the worst small country in which to find a suitable home“.

We need to be really careful because this message will catch on and once it does it will be very difficult for us to change the it.

This is where I believe Cork can step up to the mark.

In my hometown, something exciting is happening. Cork, has been progressing well with office, hotel, retail, leisure and community projects completed or under construction and at the same time public realm improvements are helping to present Cork in a better light.

However, Cork is also facing housing and infrastructure challenges but like any smaller ‘entity’ we should be more agile and flexible with the capability of reacting quickly as long as we have the genuine will to do so.

If Cork is positive and works diligently, cleverly and cohesively we can position the Cork ‘Metro’ area of some 500,000 people as Ireland’s only genuine second tier European city region full of innovative and creative people who are hungry to succeed.

Cork would then be in an ideal position to provide solutions for Ireland that Dublin will be unable to provide.

Cork can and should complement Dublin, adding more depth to Ireland’s global offer, helping IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the private sector to attract and retain businesses and people in Ireland and helping all to grow and succeed.

We now have real critical mass in global growth business sectors including technology, agribusiness, bio-pharma, tourism plus business services so a person can enjoy a great career along with other benefits.

Living in Cork is unquestionably a fantastic alternative with cheaper housing, cheaper office space, superb education, little congestion, the amazing countryside and coastline plus you can access Dublin, the rest of the island plus the global hubs of London, Paris and Amsterdam along with 50 other European cities easily. Into the bargain, we will soon be able to fly direct to the US.

Our most precious asset is the very special quality of life that is second to none in Cork, which many clever people, domestic and foreign, have already figured out. So many people who locate to Cork just don’t leave!

We have this superb opportunity and it is within our grasp once we are proactive and accelerate the development, infrastructure and marketing of the Cork region. House building must be front of centre with this agenda to ensure that we can provide all of our current and new citizens with suitable homes.

While Cork is “Big on Life” it needs to be just as Big on Action if we are to seize the opportunities that are there, right now.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Time to Prioritise Caring

December 30, 2016

Caring

As we roll into another year we inevitably start thinking about the things we have achieved and the things we want and wish for in the new year.

If I was to express my wishes for next year in one word I would choose the word “Caring“.

I’m not sure if it is just now that I feel there is a real deficit of caring in the world, if it is just what I am seeing and reading or whether it is a reflection of my age and if I am starting to think and observe things differently?

I am worried that there is not enough caring in the world and I feel that this year has plummeted with awful incidents in Nice, Berlin, Aleppo and some of the horribleness that we witnessed in the United States by the President Elect, Donald Trump in his campaign.

Lessons in how to win elections were absorbed by a new generation and “caring” isn’t quite the word that comes to mind when you reflect on what we saw being played out for months and months in the lead up to the awful result.

Closer to home our year ended in Ireland with the homeless coming together under the simple ‘Home Sweet Home‘ banner and they occupied an unused office building, Apollo House to put much needed roofs over heads and put a public spotlight on this big issue, which is getting worse and worse. The homeless need this as they can’t go on strike to get attention.

We heard the involvement of high profile Irish musicians including Glen Hansard and Hozier being sadly criticised by some in the media as being a stunt by them to raise their popularity!

What has happened with the way we think about things?

The courts moved in double quick time (they can when they want to) incredibly to process an injunction against the occupants.

The very sad “win” was that the homeless were allowed stay in the disused office building until January 11th – Merry Christmas!!

When living in a disused office block over Christmas is considered a win for those poor temporary residents we have arrived at a very poor state of affairs. Unfortunately this was a win for them – can you imagine?

My wish for the new year is that we start genuinely caring for each other, that we teach our children the importance of caring and let them witness it everyday, that we teach caring in our schools, that we make caring a priority in our workplaces, that caring becomes part of the values that companies live by and that we put caring for people in our communities, on our roads, in our cities and countries before any other criteria.

Let’s start caring.

Happy New Year and a big thank you to all the readers of my blog posts – see you next year!!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Strategic Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

4.5% APR on a new BMW and the ‘Rough Sleepers’ team

November 21, 2016

Rough Sleepers - Dublin Simon

I was tired and cranky on this bitterly cold Monday morning.

Bert, one of our four legged ones woke at 1 am thinking it was “get up time” and made sure that we knew all about it so we had a lousy nights sleep.

The heat was on but it didn’t really feel like it as we got ready for work. I checked my iPhone for any relevant updates and I jumped in the shower allowing the hot water to wake me up.

We had the radio on as we got ready and I listened to the news items on Newstalk including Donald Trump and Hamilton, the on-going saga of strikes and the adverts came on.

Order your 171 BMW now and enjoy an APR of 4.5%

The new Five Series BMW is due out early in the new year – hmmm, I wonder what will that be like?

I jumped on my exercise bike in the cold spare room and even though I wasn’t really in the mood I peddled like hell for 20 minutes, while I watched a documentary about the musician Moby. I stared out the window at the frost on the ground and on the top of the cars including my darling, 161 car as I peddled and peddled…phew, 20 minutes went slower than usual but I got there!

The painful getting ready for work process continued as I pulled out a shirt to iron – I hate ironing, but it has to be done.

Before heading to work we wrapped up and walked both Honey and Bert around the housing estate. I made an angry gesture to the car driver who felt he had the right of way as he swung right into us as we crossed over the entrance to one of the housing estates – jerk! I wanted to chase after him and give him a bit of my mind … (that would really get my day started well!)

We walked carefully avoiding the icy patches on the footpaths and with both hands numb we eventually got back home. I let the engine in the car running so it wouldn’t be cold when we sat into it.

We fed the dogs and put them outside, feeling really guilty as it was so cold. We opened the door to the shed so they would have a place to snuggle up if they felt like it.

Just as we were heading out the door I spotted the fantastic book, ‘Looking at the Stars’ that Martina Bergin from Dublin Simon gave me last week.

looking-at-the-stars-dublin-simon

Martina heads up the ‘Rough Sleepers’ team at Dublin Simon who basically look after those who are literally sleeping rough in Dublin. I thought about all of the rough sleepers and the homeless last night and how cold they must have felt. Can you imagine?

I quickly read one of the fantastic pieces in the book, written by a person who simply went by the name ‘Donal’ which put my ‘rough night’ into perspective.

I hope the office is warm today…it’s easy to forget how lucky we are.

Say hello to the Rough Sleepers when you pass them today – they had a very rough night.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Strategic Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland