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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Dublin Bus Community Support Programme under way again

Now in its eighth year, the Dublin Bus Community Support Programme (CSP) is under way again as they look for worthy winners of the awards of €1,000, €2,000 and €5,000 they make to charities and voluntary organisations in Dublin. The awards are funded from the proceeds of unclaimed fare receipts. Entrants are invited to submit proposals as to why their group or organisation deserves funding. Nominees are chosen and the winners are announced in September each year.

We profile another three of the ten €5,000 winners from last year and ask them how winning the award helped them in their efforts within their community.

THE BELLAROSE FOUNDATION

Dermot McGuckin's mother lived with cancer for eight years before passing away. Aged only 10 at the time, it was a severe loss for him which he remembers clearly to this day.

"But I'm not the only one to suffer," he explains. "Nearly everyone in Ireland has been touched by cancer and for those undergoing chemotherapy it can be very debilitating. There is not just the nausea and sickness but also extreme tiredness as well. Trying to look after a home when you sometimes can't get out of bed can cause huge stress."

With this in mind Dermot (left) set up The Bellarose Foundation in City West as a way to offer a professional cleaning service for women undergoing cancer treatment.

The aim of the Foundation is to provide support and care for women who don't have family support or who do not have the means to pay for someone to help them.

The Bellarose Foundation applied to the CSP for funding to buy new computers, cleaning equipment and to put a structure in place to help women with cancer get the best from the foundation.

"Before we received the award, our situation was that we were a little ad hoc, with no real means of processing the women at ground level. Now with our new computers and structure in place we have a system that works."

The effect of receiving the award for the foundation has been enormous. "We now come under the umbrella of the Irish Cancer Society so we get referrals from them as well as social workers. It means that now we are able to focus on women who need us most."

ARTHRITIS IRELAND

There are more than 1,000 sufferers of juvenile arthritis (JA) in Ireland, according to Lisa Mehigan, communications officer with Arthritis Ireland. JA, like adult arthritis, is an inflammatory condition which can cause severe pain. As the children get older they can sometimes feel that their illness will limit them as they grow into adulthood.

"We applied to the CSP to run a Positive Future residential workshop for teenagers who suffer with JA to give them the support they require as they face into adulthood," says Lisa.

Winning the award gave them the go ahead to do just that. "We ran our first workshop in March of this year," she adds. "It was a pilot workshop for courses that we hope to run annually, and it was a huge success."

Twenty children took part in the course, mentored by adults who had JA themselves and had a first-hand understanding of what it is like to be a child with inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis.

"The children absolutely loved it. They came from all over Ireland and for many it was a sudden realisation that they are not the only ones with JA, and this itself was a huge help to them. They were also in a safe and supportive environment where they could learn from their mentors and from each other."

Along with a life coach, the Positive Future workshop helped the children explore their feelings and showed them what they can do and that they have a future, irrespective of JA.

"Winning the CSP award had huge benefits for those children in that they now know they have a future and can plan for it."

L'Arche Dublin

L'Arche Dublin began in 1993 in Portmarnock. The word L'Arche means 'The Ark' and refers to Noah's biblical ark. The aim of L'Arche is to offer people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity of living together in safety and harmony with each other. In 1996, they moved to Baldoyle where they now have three houses located in a residential neighbourhood.

Margaret Cartwright (right) is community leader with the organisation. "What we were finding was that while we lived within the community they were unaware of us and there was not a lot of contact with our immediate neighbours or the wider community."

L'Arche knew that the best way forward was through integration and as they were thinking of ways of improving this, the Baldoyle Community and Development Group stepped forward and requested that they work together for the betterment of the community.

"We started with a greenhouse," says Margaret. "They had one but nowhere to erect it and we had land but no greenhouse." L'Arche Dublin applied to the CSP for funding for a gardening project with the aim of bringing people with disabilities, older people and young people together in the community.

"The result has been substantial. With our volunteers and the €5,000 from the CSP, we were able to create a garden suitable for wheelchair users and the elderly.

"The beds are wheelchair height, which means the elderly do not have to bend while working in the garden. We added plants and picnic tables so people could come and work or visit and have their lunch there together. It has worked wonders for our involvement and integration with the community. They now know who we are," says Margaret.

"There have also been knock-on effects in that we were able to send people on a gardening course. We are even going to get involved in an art project together."

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