But these myths, based on the portrayal of the place being some sort of ‘inhumane’ prison camp, are an insult to both the people who work there and to those who live there.. As someone who has volunteered there almost on a weekly basis since 2004, I know most residents of the Eglinton over the years have recognised it as a place of sanctuary, of friendship and of community. So many of them tell me over and over again that Ireland provides a haven of peace far from the place of violence, racism, sectarianism, hatred, oppression, gang warfare, poverty or exploitation that their homelands have become; and that the Eglinton serves as a wonderful place of transition towards a better life for them and their families.
But the facility has a wide range of onsite facilities including a fine canteen, a state of the art pre-school, a community organic garden, a coffee bar, a function room for events such as Christmas (Santa's grotto for the kids) and birthday parties, an outdoor play area, and a computer room. Volunteers and residents will next weekend work together on completing a library. There is also a homework club for children, regular offsite activities for young and old, medical support and a weekly meeting every Friday evening where staff, residents, volunteers and support agencies get together to discuss issues, educational and recreational programmes as well as problems impacting on the lives of the Eglinton community. People from outside call every day to drop off gifts and meet residents. Whilst so many current occupants of the Eglinton are well known across Galway as volunteers in a range of city NGOs, from sporting to religious to environmental.
One of the key strengths of the Eglinton is the high level of respect and friendship that exists between management (led by Patrick Mcgovern), staff and residents. It feels at times as if they are one very big family. A good example of the high esteem that staff are held in is that former residents regularly call in for a social chat with front line staff such as Carole Raftery.