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FASTNET FIRST-HAND- In conversation with Claire Harrington, Good Shepherd Cork


Over the years, Fastnet has formed a strong friendship with Good Shepherd Cork. In 1972, Sr Colette Hickey of the Good Shepherd Sisters founded Edel House emergency accommodation for women and children in Cork city. Since then, their good work has extended to a wider range of services to reach more vulnerable people within our society.  Today we catch up with Claire Harrington, Volunteer and Event Coordinator

Hi Claire, thank you for taking to the time to chat to us. I am sure this is a very busy time for you.

Can you tell us a bit more about your role within the organisation as well as the services available? I have been working with Good Shepherd Cork for over 18 years. Currently, I have two part-time roles within the Organisation. I am one of 5 shift leaders in Edel House and I am the Volunteer and Event Coordinator for all our services. I am also responsible for raising awareness of our service and generating much-needed funds.

Good Shepherd is a Cork-based charity that provides support to women, children and families who are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness. Whilst Edel House, is our best-known centre, it is only one of 7 of our services. The others are as follows:

Redclyffe- emergency accommodation for families who are homeless.

B&B Outreach Team- emotional and practical support to those living in emergency accommodation in B&Bs/hotels.

Riverview- emergency accommodation to teenage girls who are out of home.

Bruac- education and training opportunities to girls who have experienced barriers to education. 

Baile an Aoire- long term supported accommodation to women who have been through our services and in need of such housing options. 

Support and Advocacy- emotional and practical support to those who have been homeless and are now living in their own accommodation.

What challenges has the organisation faced as a result of Covid-19? 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us and our service is no exception. We have continued to provide all our services right throughout the pandemic but each of one has had to adapt to comply with public health guidelines. For our residential services, this meant reducing numbers to ensure service users can social distance. Our outreach services had to reduce their face-to-face meetings and do this over the phone or in outdoor spaces. From March to September our educational services moved to distance learning. It has been a very tough and strange few months for our clients who are trying to keep themselves safe, navigate through the guidelines while still dealing with the issues that homelessness presents. This was particularly tough on families living in a B&B or our emergency accommodation especially when the kids were off school.

Like most other places of work, our office/ admin staff are working from home and all staff meetings and trainings now take place online. This has been very hard on our staff as with the nature of our work we rely heavily on each other for support and not having those face-to-face staff meetings can make this harder to achieve but we are doing the best we can.

With fundraising activities greatly affected this Christmas, what can we do support your service users? Yes, our fundraising activities have been badly affected this year due to COVID19 for example our annual church gate collection, which always generated much-needed funds for us, has been cancelled.

There are still many ways people can support us this year. Financial donations can be made through our website, donating gifts or vouchers from our wish list or by helping us to spread the word about our organisation and the work we do.

Tell us more about the re-development of Edel House and its facilities? When should this be operational? 2021 is going to be a very exciting year of us in Edel House. After many years of looking for funding and planning for our new building, it is finally coming together, and the project should be completed by the end of 2021.

The redevelopment has 2 phases. Phase 1 was the construction of a new building adjacent to our existing one which is almost complete. Phase 2 I the redesigning of our current building, which will be adjoined with the new building at the end of the project. We will move into the new building in early 2021 so building can begin on phase 2. The redevelopment aims to improve the quality of the accommodation we provide and create additional training and meeting rooms to cater for our going support services we are providing. Each single woman will have her own unit and the families will have a separate living area to their sleeping areas. We have received government funding for building works but this does not include furniture and fixtures so we will be very busy in 2021 fundraising to cover these costs.

So, after a tough 2020 we are looking forward to 2021 and this new chapter for Edel House.

Thank you, Claire, and to all the team at Good Shepard for the amazing work that you do.

If you would like to support Good Shepherd Cork this Christmas, you can donate via the website: or by post to Good Shepherd Cork, Edel House, Grattan Street, Cork

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