Hectic times for centre supporting the community

By Maurice Garvey

THE last seven months has been a crazy period for Deansrath Family Centre.

Forced to close in November after a stolen truck rammed into it’s Clondalkin premises, neighbouring groups helped keep services running for more than 150 families in the area, but then Covid-19 arrived.

Deansrath family centre 1 compressor

Carol and Alison are dedicated family support workers loading the car with deliveries of essential food packages

In between all that, design plans for a new premises looked promising, but fell by the wayside due to lack of funding.

However, hope springs eternal, and a recent proposal by South Dublin County Council for an infill housing development in Lindisfarne contains an adjacent site for a new multipurpose community building, which could house Deansrath family centre.

This is subject to planning permission and the need to secure funding, but things are looking slightly better now, according to Siobhan Feehan, Director of Deansrath Family Centre.

“The week of the lockdown, we were allowed back into the building, as we were deemed essential services,” said Siobhan.

“It wasn’t open to the public but we were allowed in to facilitate, and had space to pack food parcels for families. Staff were staggered, working here or at home. The first week we were in was basically cleaning up after the builders had done their work. We couldn’t have done it over the past few months without that space.”

Forced to operate without a premises over Winter was in hindsight, good practice for the centre during Covid-19.

Siobhan continued: “We started a weekly shop for 37 families, staff went out and got food basics. That allowed us to keep in contact with people. To supplement that, the board of management put up supports for a lot of Mom’s with children.

“We also got a donation from the Bord Gais theatre, their popcorn and sweets would have gone out of date, so we went in and collected that. We got some funding from the SD Partnership aswell.”

In terms of their core services, Deasnrath have kept the connection with parents and children via regular Zoom sessions, which are held a number of times per week.

Aoife O’Toole-King, an early years coordinator with the centre, said this even included Zoom sessions twice weekly for kids aged 3-5.

“It has gone very good, some of them show you around their house or their toys, one or two are a bit shy which is fine, but it has been good for keeping a connection,” she said.

Aoife said they have run the early years pre-school programme Dina from the beginning of the pandemic, and a speech and language programme, essential for kids to keep up with their development progress.

“We have also been delivering activity packs every fortnight and the tools to support children,” she said.

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