Respond! College holds Graduation Ceremony in Knocknaheeney for Healthcare Support Class of 2015-2016

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.

Growing old in the community should be the goal of housing

Opinion piece published in the Irish Independent 26/04/2016

‘None of us hopes to end our days in a nursing home. Circumstances may dictate that it is the best choice but it is nobody’s first choice.

We are living longer, but we have yet to face up to the new reality that this brings.

We rightly notice and bemoan levels of child poverty that make us truly ashamed of how we treat the most vulnerable in our society. But we have failed, in many ways, to include our older selves in this equation, and to face up to the responsibility we have to our older relatives and neighbours, both as a State and as a society.

The consultative paper from the Law Reform Commission on succession rights has brought this issue into sharp focus. It asks the question: do we need to take account of changing family relationships?

The answer is a clear ‘yes’, but we need to do this honestly, and be prepared for deeper soul searching than we normally do in public policy debates.

Instead of focusing our ire on central government and demanding a solution from the ‘powers that be’, we must examine our individual and collective responsibility to each other.

The solution lies with both ‘them’ and ‘us’. Continue reading

Homeless facility for women and children set to re-open in Tallaght

Respond! Housing Association today announced the re-opening of Cuan Álainn in Tallaght, Co. Dublin following agreement with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and South Dublin County Council. Originally a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence, Cuan Álainn will be re-opened as secure accommodation for women and children who are homeless.<!–more–>

Cuan Álainn was built and operated by Respond! since 2012 but closed its doors in December of last year as a sustainable source of funding could not be found at that time. Respond! has now secured funding for the re-opening of Cuan Álainn under Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988 providing for those who are assessed as being homeless and referred by the Local Authority.

Ned Brennan, CEO of Respond! said:

“Cuan Álainn is a state-of-the-art facility specially designed for women and their children. We are delighted that doors will soon be re-opened to welcome women and children who are homeless and in need of support in order to move back into housing with support as required. At the end of March 2016, South Dublin County Council received 296 requests for emergency accommodation, including 103 families. We are pleased that Respond!’s facility can go some way to addressing the immediate needs of these families”.

Since its opening, Cuan Álainn provided a safe haven for 71 mothers and 86 children who were forced to leave their own homes as a result of domestic violence.  Children in particular, need a place to call their own, where they feel safe and secure. Cuan Álainn will be that sanctuary for these children and their mothers.

Cuan Álainn has 9 specially designed units and families will be supported by qualified staff who will aim to ensure the families’ individual needs will be addressed so when they leave Cuan Álainn they will do so from a position of strength and most importantly where the move on to tenancy arrangements will be prioritised as quickly as possible. We are currently recruiting support staff for Cuan Álainn and aim to fill the units as quickly as possible.

I would like to thank Minister Alan Kelly and officials from the Department of the Environment, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and South Dublin County Council for recognising the value of Cuan Álainn and undertaking to ensure it has a bright future ahead, providing a real safety net for Dublin’s most vulnerable homeless families”.