KARE, which provides support to people who have an intellectual disability and their families, held its AGM last week and reflected on another successful year, although the spectre of cuts in funding is a real worry for the organisation.
The focus of the AGM was on Life Long Learning, a theme that runs throughout the organisation.
Of particular interest this year is an initiaitive with NUI Maynooth where clients of KARE have been taking modules leading to a FETAC qualification.
“That’s worked very well,” CEO Christy Lynch told the Leinster Leader. “It’s been outstanding. There’s only five people doing it at the moment, and they’re getting great support from everybody, the college and their classmates.
“They’re getting the great college life experience as well. They’re taking regular classes and the same modules as everyone else.
“And the difference in confidence and self-beleif in them is amazing.”
Another element of the Life Long Learning theme in KARE is the inclusivity of the whole thing which sees the staff of the organisation doing courses as part of their upskilling. And often they will find themselves in the same classes as clients.
However, while great continues to be done. KARE, like all similar organisations operates in the shadown of very heavy government cuts.
“We’ve lost 15% of our budget,” Mr. Lynch explained.
With a loss of over half a million, Mr. Lynch said he had “never seen anything like it in memory”.
He spoke of the tough challenge of “keeping the show on the road”, but highlighted the difficulty given that the so-called “low hanging fruit” or the easy to cut bits of the organisation, were “long gone”.
He confirmed that, quite simply, they had no choice but to curtail their services and said that it was “quite alarming that the most vulnerable people” were being affected by the cuts.
“There’s a limit to what we can be expected to do with these cuts. It’s just not possible to give the same service.
“You can’t take 15% out of the budget and expect the same services.”
However he argued that KARE represents very good value for money. “We’re a very efficient and effective organisation.”
Meanwhile Mr. Lynch is set to receive a World Down Syndrome Day Award from Down Syndrome International for outstanding voluntary and professional activities “that have strengthened and enriched the lives of persons with Down Syndrome”.
The citation for Mr. Lynch notes that he is one of three individuals in the world to receive this award which will be presented at the 11th World Down Syndrome Congress in Capetown, South Africa in August.
“It is a great honour for both Christy and KARE to have his work acknowledged internationally.”
- Conor McHugh