Putting faith in hope and charity
Running costs€190,000 a year
State supportReceives €124,000 from Pobal for its after-school project and creche, plus €20,000 for its school-completion programme, a cut of €50,000 since 2008
CARING FOR CARERS: It's a 24/7 job and it's not easy
Harriet Conlon , who is 57, felt as if she was “stranded on an island” before she encountered the Carers Association.
“I felt totally alone. I have been caring for my mum, Jenny, for 10 years. She’s 86 and she has dementia, diabetes, is incontinent, immobile and can do almost nothing for herself except eat. She can lift a fork. It’s a 24/7 job, and it’s not easy.”
They live in Rathnew, in Co Wicklow. Conlon cared for her father until he died, earlier this year. She has siblings, but they are busy with their own families or have health issues. “I was walking through Bray one day when I saw the Carers Association. I thought they provided carers. I went in and I was so delighted they were there to help me as a carer – delighted to find someone who cared about me.”
With the association she has trained to Fetac level 5 learning about health and safety for carers, as well as about disabilities and dementia. “The monthly meeting with other carers is therapy for me, keeps me sane.” The association “give us a bigger voice with Government. They care for me, guide me,” she says.
“I get the carer’s allowance of €204 a week . I have sacrificed a lot, but I chose this. I don’t want Mum in a nursing home. I do feel I’ve missed out on a place in the workplace. I’ve lost friends who’ve given up trying to see me. I haven’t had a holiday in nine years, and sometimes it’s only the Carers Association that seems to notice.”
Carers Association: The numbers
Staff44 full-time, 340 part-time
Volunteers Databaseof 10,000 people
Turnover€5.3 million a year
State support€3.3 million in 2011
Cut since 200818%
Fundraising€320,000 per year
POSITION IN A PARTNERSHIP: This is a business - and a social service to the state
Denise Doyle, who is 53, had only a Leaving Cert and had been out of work for two years when, in February, she got a position as a receptionist with SpeedPak, a packaging and manufacturing firm in Coolock, north Dublin.
The enterprise is a business, part-funded by Pobal and by the Northside Partnership, as well as being a registered charity.
Founded in 1995, it provides employment as well as Fetac training for people finding it hard to get into the labour market. They are employed for up to three years, by when they will have experience, qualifications and a full CV.
“This is a commercial business with real customers, real costs and real deadlines,” says its chief executive, John Murphy. “And it’s a social service to the State.”
Murphy says the group has suffered “significant cuts” to its training and materials grant.
Doyle had been made redundant from a call centre where she had worked for 10 years. She had done two Fás courses and had applied for numerous jobs, without getting a reply. “Here I have learned IT skills, electronic invoicing and payments, and now I’m being taken on into sales . . . I feel so much more confident,” she says.
Speedpak: The numbers
VolunteersUp to 10 volunteers at any time.
Turnover€1 million a year
State support60 per cent of turnover comes via statutory employment schemes
UPS AND DOWNS: The changing face of Irish charities
57% of Irish nonprofit organisations have experienced a decrease in income in the past three years
63.5% of Irish nonprofit organisations have seen an increase in the number of people using their services in the past three years
34% of charities have reported both a decrease in income and an increase in beneficiaries in the past three years
16.8% of charities have cut working hours in the past 12 months
36.8% of charities have frozen pay in the past 12 months
25.5% of charities have reduced pay in the past 12 months
Salaries are the biggest expense for most charities. For more than a quarter of them, 60-80 per cent of their total spending is on salaries, and almost 10 per cent spend more than 90 per cent. Deirdre Garvey of the Wheel says this reflects the fact that the services are delivered by skilled people.
Two thirds of charities have tried to reduce spending on staff. More than a third had frozen pay in the year before the survey; a quarter had reduced pay; 16.8 per cent had reduced hours.
There has also been a move towards increased volunteering – but this has also led to challenges around volunteer recruitment, training and support.