When I speak to and visit charities, I’m always amazed by the range of innovative ideas and different use they make of our grants. Obviously, I’ve not been able to visit any recently(!), so it was great to receive this update from Cork Life Centre. To date, our COVID-19 grant has helped 102 UK and Irish charities. All of them have used the grant in ways that work for their organisations. For Cork Life Centre, they have been able to utilise the grant to combine the need for PPE with helping their own and surrounding communities.
About Cork Life Centre
Cork Life Centre is a voluntary organization offering an alternative learning environment to marginalized young people. The centre and its staff offer students 1:1 tuition in Junior and Leaving Cert subjects and support them in their preparation for these State Exams. The approach to education is a holistic one. The centre has been a recipient of a Hospital Saturday Fund grant in the past, so we were already in touch with them when COVID-19 caused a re-think of our grant-making priorities.
Director of Cork Life Centre, Don O’Leary, takes up the story:
“At what has been a stressful time, it has been so heartening to see how communities, and those who support them, have come together. In our lovely home on Winter’s Hill in Cork, behind the red door, work is well under way in preparation for safe re-opening for a new school year. This would not be possible without the generous support of the Hospital Saturday Fund with whom we are fortunate to have been involved with since 2017.
The COVID-19 Grant
In May and June, as restrictions began to ease, we explored and identified the needs of our community in terms of safety in the current climate and in terms of planning for a new school year. The task felt daunting. When Paul Jackson and the Hospital Saturday Fund approached and offered the support of their COVID-19 Fund, it allowed us to take vital steps on the journey to full re-opening.
When looking at prioritising safety measures to protect our community, masks were going to be essential. Given the complex issues facing our young people, cloth face coverings were not going to be fit for purpose. A range of diagnoses require that young people can see and clearly read the facial expressions of those they engage with, one example being children or adults experiencing issues with hearing loss. It became obvious that visors were to be the solution.
Purchase of 3-D printing machines and production process
With the support of HSF, we were able to purchase three 3-D printing machines and printing materials which are allowing us to print and produce our own visors. We were very fortunate that we were able to reach out to our community partners in CIT (Cork Institute of Technology), who advised us in relation to purchase and use of 3D printers who also shared their blueprint for manufacture of visors. The added bonus of producing visors on-site at a low cost, was being able to build the sense of community around preparation for re-opening by having staff and students support the production process.
Our community partners and our relationships with them are key, and being able to produce visors meant we could reach out and support others who provide vital services in the Cork community by providing them with visors for their staff and volunteers. We have been able to support local community childcare and creche facilities as well as local community organisations Meitheal Mara (community boatyard which our young people access) and the Cork Lions Club (local fundraising charity)
All of the public health advice in relation to COVID-19 highlights the integral role of hand hygiene in relation to stopping the spread of the virus. Funding from HSF has also allow for the installation of 10 hand-sanitizing stations within the centre.
Cough and Sneeze Guards
The financial support for the above measures has allowed us as an organisation to release some funding for the production of cough and sneeze guards that fit to desks. Again, these are being produced on-site in our woodwork room.
COVID-19 and safety measures are set to be a part of our culture and that of organisations across Ireland and the world for quite some time to come. In spite of this, we have been very mindful to make sure any investment in safety measures has an added value. When demand for and printing of masks declines, we will be in a position to use our 3D printers for a range of art and craft related activities within the centre.
Cough and Sneeze Guards
March to May 2020 has been a difficult time for our staff and students. In spite of engaging with learning and other community activities online, our work is relationship-based so being together is at the core of what we do. The support of the Hospital Saturday Fund has ensured that we are several steps along our journey to coming back together safely as a community by the close of summer.
It is heartening to be able to look forward positively and with confidence for the beginning of a new school year behind the red door. The Hospital Saturday Fund have been a massive part of this”.
Don O’Leary, Director of Cork Life Centre.
To find out more about Cork Life Centre, please visit their website: https://corklifecentre.org/