SINCE its inception 25 years ago the Mayo People of the Year Awards have raised in excess of a quarter of a million euro for the running of RehabCare services in Mayo, writes Tom Gillespie.
The most recent developments, thanks to the funds raised, was the purchase of a seven-seater accessible vehicle which transports people with disabilities to access services in their local community. A fully-fitted and equipped professional kitchen has also been installed at the Breaffy Road centre, which enables people with disabilities to learn cooking skills as well as learning healthy eating options.
Since 2012, Edel Cadden, manager, Mayo home support personal assistant and brain injury service, RehabCare Mayo, has been secretary of the Mayo People of the Year Awards organising committee and she is looking forward to this year’s event, which will be held at Breaffy House Hotel, Castlebar, on Saturday, November 25.
She said: "We are anticipating a huge degree of interest in this, the 25th awards celebration. We have always had a great cross-section of countywide community-based nominations, both individuals and groups, and this year will be no exception.
"For the past 24 years, the Rehab Mayo People of the Year Awards have provided an opportunity for the people of Mayo to recognise the extraordinary achievements of the great and the good of the people of our county.
"The awards, which are sponsored by Mayo County Council and The Connaught Telegraph newspaper, are organised by Rehab and provide essential services for people with disabilities living in the Mayo area.
"Since their inception, more than €250,000 has been raised. All funds raised locally go directly to services here in Mayo.
"Much like the awards, Rehab has a long history in Mayo. For many decades, our services have been supporting people with disabilities to develop the skills and training they require to live and work in their community."
Rehab, she continued, supports more than 240 people, aged 18 to 65 years, with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities the length and breadth of the county.
"In partnership with the HSE, RehabCare’s resource centres in Castlebar offer programmes which include numeracy and literacy, computer training, arts and crafts, sports and leisure, and thanks to the awards has now opened a kitchen facility which delivers training in food nutrition and cooking skills," Edel explained.
"Due to the demand for this service, RehabCare have now opened two hubs located in Claremorris and Westport.
"RehabCare also provides supported accommodation to 10 people in transitional living in Castlebar, supporting them to move towards fully independent living."
Ms. Cadden added: "Our home support service is delivered to over 60 people across the county. This service provides essential supports enabling people to live independently in their own homes and be active members in their community. This is led and directed by the person receiving the service, giving much-needed support to both families and carers.
"The National Learning Network offers training opportunities to over 100 people who may have been finding it difficult to access further education, training and employment. Courses include employer-based training, business and IT, computer studies and office skills, Sporting Chance and Fresh Start as well as a specific courses for people with autism to help them to get involved in their communities.
"To help people to achieve their goals we rely on the support of the local community. We simply couldn’t do it without your support and the support of families, the local community and local businesses.
"The people of Mayo are always very generous, whether it be through providing opportunities to get involved in the local community or supporting people to seek employment."
Rehab is a charity that champions the value of diversity and inclusion for people with a disability or those disadvantaged in their communities.
Their mission is to support the people they serve to be more independent and to contribute to and be more included in their communities, empowering them with the skills and confidence to be active in the workforce, and supporting them to be in charge of their own lives.
Over 20,000 people use the services of Rehab. More than 3,200 employees deliver services in over 170 locations in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and Poland.
Under the leadership of the new Rehab board, they have undertaken a significant strategic review and comprehensive consultation process with the people they support, their families, their employees, and their funders in Ireland and the UK.
The result is a new five-year strategic plan, and a new vision, mission and values and set of strategic goals that reflect the views of stakeholders and give clear direction for Rehab’s future as a sustainable, transparent organisation which strives for excellence.
In Ireland, Rehab’s services are currently provided by RehabCare, National Learning Network and Rehab Enterprises.
The organisation was set up as the Rehabilitation Institute in 1949 to support people recovering from TB to rebuild their lives, to regain their independence and to re-enter the workforce following their illness.
In the early years, Rehab focused on providing training services to support people to enter or to re-enter the workforce.
Throughout its history, Rehab has developed considerable skills and resources in meeting the needs of people who need specific supports to live the lives that they want to live.
Rehab has since expanded its focus to include all people with disabilities and others who are marginalised and, in all, hundreds of thousands of people and their families have benefitted from the services provided by the organisation over the years.
Ms. Cadden expressed her thanks to the sponsors of the Mayo People of the Year Awards and the people of Mayo for their support over the past 24 years, and said she looked forward to their continued involvement and generosity in the silver jubilee year of the awards.
Edel concluded by quoting Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”