BY AISLING MEATH
THE positive ‘can do’ attitude of the Schull community has resulted in the just launched ‘Mizen Care and Repair’ initiative.
Its aim is to help elderly residents and people with disabilities with small jobs in their homes, such as changing a light bulb, cleaning gutters, fixing a plug or cutting hedges. It will operate from Kilcoe and down the Mizen peninsula, with hopes to extend it towards Skibbereen.
Set up in conjunction with the West Cork Development Partnership and the Department of Social Protection, it had valuable input from the Schull community who are continuing to develop the project and fundraise to cover costs.
It was first initiated by local residents Nellie Cotter and Bridie O’ Donoghue along with garda Jonathan McCarthy, who identified a need for a household repair service be carried out at a low cost to elderly or vulnerable people.
Nellie, Bridie and Jonathan are all both known locally for their volunteering work, and indeed Nellie, who runs The Little Way charity shop in Schull, was nominated for a ‘ West Cork Hero’ award in 2016, run in conjunction with The Southern Star and the Celtic Ross hotel.
‘It was Jonathan’s idea to begin with,’ said Nellie. ‘He was already helping elderly people in the area installing smoke alarms and doing other small jobs like that, and he saw the need for a regular service to help them. Jonathan really gets things up and running, and for a man with a young family he deserves all credit for the hours of voluntary work which he does in the community,’ she said.
‘Three heads are better than one,’ Nellie continued and herself and Bridie joined forces with Jonathan and together they rounded up a committee of volunteers to see how they could put their plan into action.
The committee, comprising Nellie, Bridie and Jonathan along with John Fox, Nora Mc Sweeney, Fachtna Whooley, Nuala Hegarty, Maureen O’ Callaghan, Trish Deeney, Ellen Logan and Tommy Jermyn came up with a plan to approach the West Cork Development Partnership and the Department of Social Protection.
They lobbied their local politicians to get the manpower to put it all into action, and were delighted to get three CE scheme workers through the Department of Social Protection – all qualified tradesmen, as well as a voluntary manager John Fox, himself a retired carpenter making up their team of four.
John explained: ‘We target small jobs that are not really worth calling out a tradesman for such as painting and decorating, taking obsolete household goods to the dump, and making sure that access to the home is clear of trip hazards. We do not cover electrical wiring, but we do everything else to make life easier for our clients.’
The safety and security of their clients is paramount and Mizen Care and Repair always work as a pair.
Garda Jonathan said: ‘Our tradesmen are local and fully garda vetted and the white van which they use has the ‘Mizen Care and Repair’ logo visibly displayed on the outside. All our tradesmen will be wearing shirts with the logo on it as well. ‘The service is by appointment only and I would encourage anyone that may have need of it not to hesitate to ring our office in Schull – it’s a strictly confidential service.’
The garda continued: ‘I would like to wholeheartedly thank Fergal Conlon from the West Cork Development Partnership who has been so supportive in helping us get this project off the ground. West Cork Development Partnership have already established a very successful similar scheme in the Bantry area, so we looked at that model and we were delighted to have Fergal’s expertise on board.’
The WCDP covered the initial cost of the van, and fundraising drives are underway to pay back the cost.
Fergal Conlon of WCDP said: ‘We are here to provide a wider participation in voluntary activity and to promote the networking of community and voluntary organisations and there’s no doubt about it but the Schull community have a really positive ‘can do’ attitude which I have experienced throughout all my dealings with the wonderful volunteers who worked so hard to get this project up and running.’
Access to the service will be provided with referrals through channels such as community welfare officers, the gardai, district nurses or home help services who will be in a position to identify people in need of such service.
Mizen Care and Repair have also set up an office in Schull and may be contacted by individuals whose enquires will be treated in strictest confidence.
The service costs €40 with an option to have a half- day service if required.
• Contact: Mizen Care and Repair on 028-27584 or email: [email protected]