President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins is to be guest of honour as the not for profit organisation Clarecare celebrates 50 years of serving the people of Clare. The President has accepted an invitation to address the gathering at an evening event in Glór, Ennis on the 27th September, designed to mark the enormous contribution made by Clarecare over the past five decades. The invited audience will be made up of past and present staff members, volunteers, service users and representatives of partner agencies.
Clarecare General Manager, Fiacre Hensey, spoke of the organisation’s delight that President Higgins had accepted the invitation to mark the anniversary, “Given the President’s strong Clare connections and his long-standing commitment to social justice, we are very honoured that President Higgins will join us for this significant milestone. Clarecare is a unique organisation. It is the largest Clare based, not for profit agency providing a broad range of support services for people in Clare. Many thousands of Clare people have been supported by Clarecare down through the years and it is very important to acknowledge that contribution and to nurture a vision for the future.”
The history of Clarecare goes back to a time when, by comparison with today, there were relatively few social services in Ireland. Clarecare, originally Clare Social Services Council, was set up in 1968, when Joe Boland, then County Manager, and the late Bishop Michael Harty recognised the need for a body to co-ordinate the activities of voluntary organisations. A meeting was called to consider the formation of a Social Service Council, as a means of co-ordinating and developing local services for the elderly. The inaugural meeting of the new council took place on the 12th of November 1968 and Clare Social Service Council, under the presidency of Fr. Brendan O’Donoghue, set up office in O’Connell St., Ennis with just one employee, a clerk typist.
The Clare Social Services Council met with an enthusiastic response from the voluntary sector. It began as a parish based organisation with twenty three affiliated organisations. In response to the needs expressed by callers to the centre a social worker was employed, the late Sr. Eucharia, a Mercy Sister. In 1971 as the volume of work grew, five Little Sisters of the Assumption were invited to join the staff and in 1973 Fr. Brian Geoghegan was appointed full time Director.
The initial focus was the provision of services for older persons, but by the end of the 1970s, Clare Social Services Council had extended into services for children and families as more needs were identified. Clare Social Services Council was renamed Clarecare in 1987.
Clarecare has lived through a major expansion in Irish social services over the past 50 years. It began by building on a spirit of volunteerism to develop a network of services across the county, informed by a vision of community development which encouraged people to be actively involved in responding to needs within their local community, thereby building up a county-wide infrastructure of care and support.
The initial focus of Clarecare was on services for the elderly but this soon extended to cover the family in its broadest sense and saw the development of a range of support services including child protection, fostering and adoption placement, pre-school playgroups as well as holiday schemes for families and the elderly. Counselling services have also been provided for many years, including a dedicated residential service for those overcoming addictions.
As a result of these developments, Clarecare now offers an exceptional range of services including Parents’ Support Groups, Family Support Services, Older Persons Services including Home Help, Social Work and Day Centre services, a Citizens Information Centre, a professional Counselling Service, Bushypark Addiction Treatment Services and thrift shops.
Throughout its existence, there has been a strong relationship between Clarecare and many Government departments and agencies. Clarecare liaises with bodies including The Department of Health, Tusla, the HSE, the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Health Insurers and the Killaloe Diocese in order to ensure the best use of available resources. The services are delivered by almost 500 staff members, the majority are part-time, and 33 as Community Employment Scheme participants.
All Clarecare services are based in Clare, primarily serving the people of Clare. Clarecare offices are in Ennis, Bushypark, Kilrush, Killaloe, Shannon, and Ennistymon. This is to optimise the delivery of services to such a diverse population. The services are based on the philosophy of working in a supportive role with people to assist them in finding solutions to their problems.
Clarecare services are accessed by a wide range of people of all ages. The vast majority are resident in County Clare, however some have Clare connections but live elsewhere. Bushypark Addiction Treatment Services are open to all, regardless of place of residence.
A sample of statistics from the 2017 Annual Report shows that Clarecare continues to deliver a diversity of services to the highest standards to vulnerable families and individuals across the county. 370 part-time Home Helps delivered 192,171 hours of service in 2017 and Clarecare also delivered 99,823 Home Care Package Hours. 1,341 children and young people engaged in Clarecare individual or group activities across a range of specialised and community services for children and their families and a total of 7,747 queries from 4,565 individual callers were recorded at the Citizens Information Centre based in the Clarecare Shannon Office. 130 people completed the Bushypark addiction treatment residential programme, 304 clients attended the Bushypark After-care programme, 300 attended the Clarecare Bushypark Family Support service and over 350 people used the Bushypark Outreach programme.
According to Rev. Ger Nash, Chairman of the Clarecare Board of Directors, “We owe a very big debt of gratitude to the founders who had the vision fifty years ago to establish the organisation that grew into Clarecare. Their desire to improve the lives of Clare people in a meaningful way has not been without significant challenges but it is a vision that still holds true today. On behalf of the Board, I would also acknowledge the enormous contribution of past and present staff, volunteers and partner organisations in the development of this unique service and thank the people of Clare who have trusted us to support them over the years”.
If anyone wishes to avail of Clarecare supports they can contact 065 682 8178 or visit www.clarecare.ie
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact
Fiacre Hensey, Clarecare General Manager 087 2802948
Ciana Campbell, Communications Specialist 087 6815635