Class of 2016 graduate from Respond! College

Respond! College today welcomed 33 graduates to Dublin for their commencement ceremony at the High Park campus, Drumcondra. All of today’s graduates completed internationally-recognised certificates in Community Studies, Health Service Skills and Housing Practice.  Many of the graduates had returned to Third Level education in later life, for the first time.

Addressing the graduates, during the award ceremony Senator Lynn Ruane applauded the graduates.

“I’d like to offer my congratulations to today’s graduates and wish them all the best with their future endeavours. I can personally attest to how difficult a late in life return to formal education can be and everyone commencing today should be applauded for tackling and overcoming this challenge.  Education is a powerful tool for changing both the lives of individuals and Irish society as a whole and I’m inspired by the example set by everyone today in taking the initiative to learn a new skill, study a new area and gain a qualification they can put to excellent use in the future.”

Margaret Tynan, one of the graduates celebrating after said

“I’m thrilled I went back to education to Respond! College. The very first day was tough as I had been out of school so long but I persevered and it was a great experience. I now have a full-time job in healthcare and I have no doubt that the course and the work experience we got lead directly to my new job.  I would say to anybody – people who want to go back into the workforce or people who just want to learn new skills – to take that leap and sign up for classes.”

Commenting after the ceremony, Albert Perris, Chief Executive Officer of Respond Support and Head of Respond College, noted

‘We see again this year the power of community based education in providing choice, options and opportunities for those committed  to life-long learning and professional and personal development.  It is imperative that after a decade of cuts to Third Level budgets, and a trend toward consolidation in the sector, that investment is restored and diversity of opportunity promoted, within community based education.  While some progress has been made in recent years in addressing barriers to accessing Third Level education, more needs to be done, specifically to enable those who seek to up-skill or re-skill in later life.  Barriers to education is not simply about college fees .  Childcare options and costs, transport costs, and accommodation are all prohibitive barriers for many older students wishing to go to college and re-skill’. If third level education is to be accessible to all,  there needs to be local community based options for those unable to relocate or travel”.


Housing numbers are only one side of the equation – we cannot forget to build communities

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney TD today visited John’s College – Respond!’s latest social housing development – in Waterford city. To date, Respond! has built 574 social homes and 4 childcare centres in Waterford city and county alone.

John’s College was refurbished and redeveloped by Respond! Housing with the financial support of Waterford City Council and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government through the Capital Assistance Scheme, the Capital Advance Lease Facility and Payment and Availability Agreement. The €12 million scheme has delivered 57 one bedroom apartments, a 10 bed group home and extensive communal facilities.

Minister Coveney said:

“I’m delighted to be here today to visit this development provided by Respond and I would like to congratulate them on their great work in transforming what was previously a disused building which is now being used to provide homes for elderly people. We need to see more projects like this which make use of derelict properties. Approved Housing Bodies such as Respond are vital to the delivery of Rebuilding Ireland the Action Plan for Housing & Homelessness. The Action Plan is all about providing homes and sustainable communities for families nationwide and this project is a fine example of this with a community centre on site for the wider community”

Ned Brennan, Chief Operations Officer, Respond! Housing said:

“We are delighted to have played the lead role in saving and refurbishing this iconic Waterford City landmark building and converting it to modern housing and facilities for the benefit of the community”

John’s College is home to over 60 residents, some of whom require supports to live independently. John’s College acts as a community centre for the wider area, and is home to the Waterford branch of Downs Syndrome Ireland, the Cuidiú mother and toddler group, the Hub café and an artist in residence. Respond! College will run a Certificate in Housing Practice and a major award course in Health Service Skills and other educational courses for residents and the wider community, in the facility, this coming term”

Albert Perris, Chief Executive Officer of Respond Support said:

“Waterford city and county currently has 6,000 people in need of accommodation and this is a crisis we all have to address. However, housing is only one part of the solution. Communities need services; children need facilities and families need supports.

The Respond! model is not one where we simply build houses, but one where we are committed to the creation and development of resourced communities to enable and empower people to fulfil their potential.  We do this through the provision of housing along with services, supports, education and life-skills.

Integrated housing can only be delivered through integrated planning and we hope that ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ will contribute to this. Housing, along with services are a core component in the development of truly sustainable communities.”

James McCarthy resident of John’s College said:

“In John’s College I know I am never alone. I have recently joined the choir set up by the residents. We all have skills we can teach to others. It’s never too late to learn”