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New CoAction centre is ‘unique'

July 25th, 2017 7:10 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath, cutting the tape to officially open the new CoAction Building in Clonakilty on Wednesday, May 31st last. Also included are, from left, Kevin Hodnett, chairman of CoAction Clonakilty; Jean Buttimer, vice-chairperson CoAction Clonakilty; Reggie Chamber

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The recent official opening of a new €2.1m Children's and Adults' Service Centre at Convent Way in Clonakilty heralds a welcome addition for the service provider, writes Kieran O'Mahony

IT was certainly a watershed moment for the staff, users and volunteers of CoAction West Cork when the ribbon was finally cut by Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath, on the organisation's new €2.1m Children's and Adults' Service Centre in Clonakilty at the end of May. This state-of-the-art facility provides custom-built accommodation for 190 children and 22 adults in the Clonakilty area, with the children's service located on the ground floor and the adult services on the upper ground.

As a community-based organisation and designated service provider, CoAction West Cork currently supports 630 children and 150 adults with a disability or autism in West Cork.

The official opening of the purpose-built centre came as a result of CoAction West Cork's fundraising structures. Despite state funding of only €100,000, the hardworking team ensured they met their target for the building.

The children's services located on the ground floor of the building are provided through the West Cork Child Development Service (WCCDS), a partnership approach between CoAction and the HSE. This service is based on the Progressing Disability Model of Service to provide a range of multi-disciplinary services to children in West Cork with disabilities and complex needs aged 0 to 18 and includes therapy rooms and family rooms.

The upper ground floor offers a wide range of services and supports to adults from the area based on the ‘New Directions' model. This includes ongoing education and training focused on maximising capacity and independence for each individual to live their own life within their own community, an inclusive approach to supporting individuals to live the life of their choosing and training and support to participate in mainstream employment.

Facilities here include a drop-in area with seating, computer access, coffee dock as well as a Lifeskills training area and a meeting rooms for individuals, families and also staff.

Speaking at the official launch, Kevin Hodnett – on behalf of the local branch – said it was important that the people who were there at the launch were the people who use the building.

‘This building is a testament to the people of Clonakilty – from individuals to organisations – who showed their can-do attitude and who fundraised tirelessly for us,' said Kevin. ‘People had a vision and wanted to put up this building and it was your vision and dream that made this possible.'

Reggie Chambers, chairperson of CoAction West Cork said the occasion was well overdue and thanked those who were involved in the fundraising as well as Cork County Council for donating the site. 

He also thanked the contractors, Murnane & O'Shea for carrying out the building work. 

‘Thank God for CoAction,' said Reggie, who also paid tribute to the recently retired CEO Maurice Walsh who he described as being ‘inspirational in overseeing the development and we thank you for your guidance.'

Maurice, who retired recently after leading the organisation for 11 years, has described this most recent addition to CoAction's ambitious Capital Development Programme as ‘a unique service building'.

He also acknowledged the support of Cork County Council as well as the ‘wider West Cork community who fundraised tirelessly for the benefit of the people we support and their families. To everyone concerned we are eternally grateful.'

‘We did have a number of meetings with Minister McGrath to get additional funding in order to have respite services, which isn't available to those families. We were hopeful of getting additional funding but to date we haven't received any.'

Speaking at the official launch Minister McGrath said CoAction is an organisation to be proud of and is a leading example of providing pathways for services for people with complex needs.

‘This new facility is putting the individual at the centre of everything we do and you've every right to have a centre like this,' he said.

Minister McGrath also commended the students for making a video highlighting the different services that they use there, which was shown at the official launch much to the delight of those in attendance. It captured the enthusiasm and drive of those who regularly attend the service centre as well as their passion.

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