In the month of September, I went to visit a few charities whom I had seen earlier in the year. These charities were successful with their grant applications.
Suzanne House Visit on 21st September 2017
The first stop on my visits was to Suzanne House in Tallaght Dublin, to present a cheque for €9,472 for a medical bed.
The Saint John of God Order was founded in 1882 and it provides community services in Ireland, UK and Malawi. The Saint John of God Order helps to fund Suzanne House.
This hospice provides specialised individual respite care for children with a life-limiting condition in a small homelike environment.
I met Sarah Donohue, Trust Funding Co-Ordinator at the Saint John of God Order. She explained that in the Leinster area there is only one other children’s hospice, so Suzanne House is struggling to meet the demand from parents. Even so, the Hospice offers 30 days of respite care per year to each child.
Disability Federation of Ireland Meeting on 22nd September 2017
I met Joan O’Donnell, Development Manager, Geoff Day and Karen Keely, at Mazars Accountants in Dublin, to present a cheque for €13,500 towards funding the FACS Forum Awareness Campaign.
DFI works to ensure that Irish society is fully inclusive of people with disabilities and disabling conditions so that they can exercise fully their civil, social and human rights. In pursuit of this vision, DFI acts as an advocate for the voluntary disability sector and supports organisations to further enable people with disabilities.
FACS [Fetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome] occurs in children born to women who were prescribed medication containing sodium valproate during pregnancy. This medication is known as Epilim in Ireland. It is widely prescribed for Epilepsy and Bi-Polar Disorder and other conditions such as migraine (although it is not licensed in Ireland for migraine). Children exposed to this drug in the womb have a 30-40% chance of serious developmental disorders and/or physical defects according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). There is also a strong link between Epilim in pregnancy and autism. This is a worthy cause covering quite a profound subject area in much need of financial support.
Karen Keely administers the Forum on a voluntary basis. Interestingly enough, she was interviewed for a BBC report, which had been shown on the 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock news the day before I presented the cheque!
Helium Arts Meeting on 22nd September 2017
I met Anna McCarthy, Fundraising and Development Manager, at Mazars Accountants in Dublin to present a cheque for €2,700 towards funding their Fireflies Project.
Helium Arts is the national children’s arts and health organisation. They are leading contributors to art and health policymaking in Ireland and are committed to mentoring artists and healthcare providers through professional development programmes. In Ireland, there are 160,000 children and teenagers living every day with the long-term effects of illness. Helium Arts provides positivity in these children’s lives through award-winning, participatory arts programmes.
The Hospital Saturday Fund has successfully supported similar projects in UK.
Heart Children Ireland Cheque Presentation on 25th September, 2017
The staff in the Ennis office of the Hospital Saturday Fund presented a cheque for €8,000 to Margaret Rogers, Chief Executive, Heart Children Ireland for funding towards the cost of a Family Psychology Support Service.
The Family Psychology Support Service was funded originally by the Charity for a three-year period, but it was hoped that, as the service was extremely successful, the HSE would take on the funding of the project thereafter. Unfortunately, the HSE
declined to do so due to budget cuts. As a result, Heart Children Ireland fundraised to cover the €70,000 annual cost of running the service.
Dr Deidre O’Neal a specialist psychologist leads the Support Service that assists children nationwide facing heart surgery, their parents and siblings. The Support Service also helps families in other ways, for example children with CHD (Congenital Heart Disorder) often have learning difficulties and therefore families require specialist advice. There is a link between heart disease and brain development due to issues such as reduced blood flow and the resulting lack of oxygen.
Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre Visit on 6th October 2017
When reading about the CEO of a charity visiting Wormwood Scrubs, eye brows are naturally raised. When the visit includes well known British actor Martin Clunes, it sounds like the start of a bad joke. Thankfully, in this case, it was none of the above. It was in fact a trip to the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, for which Martin Clunes is the Patron.
The Centre provides riding and equine therapy for children, specialising in those with special issues and physical disabilities. Over the years the Pony Centre has grown from three ponies and hand-built stables to a professional establishment with a traditional stable yard that houses 20 horses and ponies.
An incredible 350 children rode at the centre last year and this is set to rise as the new school, relocated from Grenfell Tower, is located next to the Pony Centre. A number of these children have learning difficulties and disabilities and will benefit from the Pony Centre.
John Greenwood, The Hospital Saturday Fund Chairman, and I went to present a cheque for £10,000 to this magnificent project. My PA Ana Vega and Baldeep Thind from the customer care team were also present. I always try to encourage staff from other departments to join me on these trips so that they can see first-hand what sort of projects receive funding.
We met Sister Mary-Joy Langdon, Director and Founder of the Charity, Martin Clunes and Alice Beer, Celebrity Supporter. One couldn’t fail to be impressed by the passion and commitment of Sister Mary-Joy. I asked Martin why he had become patron of the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. He explained that he had been amazed by the effect the Centre had on children. Martin knew of children who could now walk [with the help of Sister Mary-Joy Langdon] due to the therapeutic influence of riding ponies.