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.

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

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‘If it was our kids, we’d want them to get home safely. Peo­ple come back to us, say­ing thanks for look­ing af­ter me

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’.”

Africa Day

Con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen that would never hap­pen. This, says An­na­gret Winkel, is the big­gest ben­e­fit of Africa Day, an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the African con­ti­nent’s unity that falls on May 25 each year.

“The whole idea is to share our cul­ture with the Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, to show the world Africa is not just how the me­dia por­trays it — as a poor, third world con­ti­nent. We do have our cul­ture and we want to share it.” While the main pub­lic event, ‘Africa Day Fam­ily Cel­e­bra­tion’, took place last year in Cork’s Fitzger­ald Park — it was hugely suc­cess­ful with over 2,700 at­tend­ing — events hap­pen through the week lead­ing up to May 25: a show­case of films pro­duced by peo­ple of African ori­gin, a sem­i­nar (last year’s had a mi­gra­tion theme) and an art ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tur­ing work of up-and-com­ing African artists.

An­na­gret, who has been vol­un­teer­ing for Africa Day’s Cork event since 2014, says 80% of Africa was rep­re­sented in Fitzger­ald Park on May 25. Orig­i­nally from Namibia and in Cork seven years, she says: “It’s a set­ting of mu­sic and fun. Peo­ple talk who would never oth­er­wise talk. And there was food — a Kenyan food stall — we’re plan­ning to have more next year. For Africans, food is very im­por­tant in a so­cial set­ting.” And it’s not just the min­gling with Ir­ish and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties that’s pre­cious, she says. “The African com­mu­ni­ties them­selves get to­gether. All the African coun­tries have their own cul­ture and tra­di­tions and this day reignites our to­geth­er­ness — it’s like ‘we are not home but this is our new home and let’s make it a home to­gether’.”

Dou­glas Street Traders

It’s a dis­tant me­mory now, but through­out the re­ces­sion Dou­glas Street started feel­ing very shabby, with anti-so­cial be­hav­iour, drink­ing and drug-tak­ing.

“It was hap­pen­ing in broad day­light in dif­fer­ent hotspots. Ev­ery­one was get­ting fed up. Some of us got to­gether to tackle it,” says Jus­tine Looney, chair of Dou­glas Street Traders (aka Dou­glas Street Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion DSBA).

In­stru­men­tal in gather­ing the group were lo­cal GP Dr Sinéad Cot­ter and Edel Curtin of Cough­lan’s Bar. Ten peo­ple at­tended that first meet­ing, along with the com­mu­nity Garda and Mick Finn, cur­rent Cork Mayor. A What­sApp group was set up with 30 peo­ple. “If some­thing was hap­pen­ing out­side the doc­tor’s surgery [or else­where on the street] 30 peo­ple would ring An­gle­sea Street Garda Sta­tion. Slowly but surely it be­came more dif­fi­cult for [un­de­sir­able el­e­ments] to hang around.” Tak­ing back the street — a long one stretch­ing from Nano Na­gle Place all the way to Lang­ford Row — led DSBA to see Dou­glas St’s po­ten­tial. “We de­cided to or­gan­ise a street fes­ti­val, to show­case the di­verse and eclec­tic group of busi­nesses on the street – ev­ery­thing from sign-writ­ers to sil­ver­smiths, from bars and restau­rants to brass works, from me­chan­ics to a flower stu­dio.”

Now in its sec­ond year, the first Au­tum­nFest took place on Oc­to­ber 1, 2017, with cir­cus per­for­mances (DSBA teamed up with Cork Com­mu­nity Cir­cus), mu­sic, danc­ing, piz­za­mak­ing for kids, street walk­ing tours by lo­cal his­to­rian and story-telling: older peo­ple re­counted mem­o­ries of grow­ing up on the street. This year’s Au­tum­nFest was even big­ger, with per­for­mances from Rebel Brass Band, AfroLatin Dance School, Joan Denise Mo­ri­arty School of Dance, Bar­ber­shop Quar­tet and CIT Samba Band.

In cre­at­ing their ‘Vil­lage in a City’, DSBA got in­volved in an ur­ban green­ing project with Cork Healthy Cities and Cork En­vi­ron­men­tal Fo­rum. The re­sult is a com­mu­nity gar­den — food for­est — at the end of Sum­mer­hill South. “Ev­ery­thing in it is edi­ble. You can come and en­joy it, do a bit of gar­den­ing, [eat] what you like from it.” Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions go up on Dou­glas Street on De­cem­ber 1, there are “big­ger and bet­ter” plans for green­ing in 2019, and two new bike stands are to be in­stalled.

Mad About Cork

The army of guer­rilla gar­den­ers and street artists ded­i­cated to the beau­ti­fi­ca­tion of Cork are hop­ing bats will shortly take up res­i­dence in Shan­don Com­mu­nity Gar­den.

Build­ing roost­ing boxes and hang­ing them in trees for the city’s large pop­u­la­tion of bats is one of the lat­est projects of the vol­un­teer group, which has breathed life — and gor­geous­ness — back into pre­vi­ously derelict and un­used city spa­ces.

Mad About Cork spent much of the sum­mer heat­wave try­ing to keep the ur­ban gar­dens alive. “We were just wa­ter­ing for that six-week pe­riod,” says Kevin O’Brien, Mad About Cork vol­un­teer and co-founder. “We’d al­ways be plant­ing,” he says. On a re­cent Satur­day, 15 of the group’s vol­un­teers did a na­ture cy­cle with the Cork Cy­cling Cam­paign, cy­cling to the city’s Western sub­urbs. “We each brought our own spring bulbs. We did a blitz of plant­ing — 500 spring bulbs in the Lee Fields and in Mur­phy’s Farm, Bish­op­stown.”

Hav­ing re­planted the North Gate Bridge, they now plan to plant up Shan­don Pedes­trian Bridge. “We’re go­ing to fill it with colour­ful plants for the win­ter.” To see the value of what Mad About Cork does is to re­mem­ber what the place looked like be­fore, says Kevin. “Lots of parts of Cork were ly­ing in dere­lic­tion. Once we’d cleaned up a place, we thought what could we do to give it a flour­ish? We started green­ing it and putting in the flow­ers and that’s what did it.”

Cork Street Pas­tors, from left, Nuala McCarthy, Fiona Hoey, David Hoey, Mag­gie Bettger, Dan Price and Tony Lawani, who help late-night rev­ellers in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions.

Mad About Cork.Build­ing roost­ing boxes and hang­ing them in trees for the city’s large pop­u­la­tion of bats is one of the lat­est projects of the vol­un­teer group.

Africa Day is an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the African con­ti­nent’s unity that falls on May 25 each year. ‘Africa Day Fam­ily Cel­e­bra­tion’ at­tracted 2,700 to Cork’s Fitzger­ald Park last year.

Au­tum­nFest, or­gan­ised by Dou­glas Street Traders, is de­signed to show­case the di­verse and eclec­tic group of busi­nesses on the street.

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