Respond! College held a graduation ceremony for its first Cork based cohort of FETAC Level 5 Healthcare Support Students on 16 June 2016 at the Knocknaheeney/Hollyhill Youth Centre in Cork City. 19 Students graduated with a Major award in Healthcare Support, with another 15 attaining minor awards.
The Healthcare Support programme was delivered by Respond! College in Blackpool Community Centre, and was funded by the Department of Social Protection through the Community Employment Scheme. The students are now qualified carers and some of them are already using their qualifications in paid employment.
Founder/Director Fr Pat Cogan ofm congratulated the students on their achievement saying:
“Caring is so fundamental to community life. We need to care for one another. If you see someone that is in need of assistance, in need of a helping hand, I challenge you to be the one to be that helping hand, to provide that level of care we need to collectively flourish. This is what transforms neighbourhoods into caring communities. You are now professional carers; working in the field and fully qualified to complete that task, but as you well know, mutual care is the glue that binds us together. Seeing this quality in his own community, Mark Twain said ‘it growed’. And it does, it grows exponentially. I challenge you to be that caring person to grow transform your own neighbourhoods and working environments into caring communities”.
Programme Leader Dr Lorcan Byrne said:
“We are very proud of our first Cork-based class of Healthcare Support Students who worked very hard throughout the year and deserve this great day of celebration. This programme really shows what can happen when the community pulls together. We are very grateful to all of the Community Employment Supervisors, as they enabled the students, helping them to assess funding, supporting and encouraging the students over the entire year. We are also very grateful to our good friends and colleagues in Blackpool Community Centre who made a great contribution with facilities, friendship and support.”
The students are looking forward to their careers as qualified carers as holding the Healthcare Support Certificate is now a prerequisite for entry/advancement within the caring profession. Respond! College’s teaching philosophy means that the students’ life experiences, both personal and professional, is highly valued and this becomes the centre point of the entire learning process. This allowed students to share knowledge, skills and experience in ways that were mutually beneficial.
Respond! College’s work in Cork City is part of Respond!’s wider Blackpool regeneration programme and Respond!’s provision of educational opportunities to those who need it most. Fr. Cogan reiterated Respond!’s commitment to education saying:
“We know that those with the least resources are often the ones given least educational opportunities. We want to challenge that injustice. We want everyone who wants to read to a child to be able to read to that child, for that child to grow up exploring for him or herself the written word and a world of imagination and possibilities.”
In addition to the Healthcare Support Course, Respond! College will be running a Certificate in Housing Practice in Blackpool this coming September.