There was a great sense of pride and positivity in the Rebel County on Wednesday morning as the National Lottery hosted a live event celebrating the people right at the heart of Cork’s Community and Charity Sector.
Host Gráinne Seoige, was joined on stage at the Firkin Crane theatre by some of Cork’s most inspiring volunteers, one of whom was Karen O’Mahony, CEO of the Rainbow Club Cork, who recently won the Youth Category in the Good Causes Awards. This impressive club offers support to families, children, young teens and adults living with Autism.
Photo Caption: Gráinne Seoige hosts a panel discussion about the Cork community and charity sector
Karen revealed what the past couple of months have been like after scooping the coveted National Lottery award and prize money: “It was amazing, it gave us all such a lift. The money was great of course, but the actual award meant so much. Getting that level of recognition has changed the dynamics in the club over the last few weeks. Our staff and volunteers feel so valued”.
When asked what the future holds for The Rainbow Club Cork, Karen responded; “The dream is for us to have a building of our own. We’d also love to replicate what the Rainbow Club does around the country. It’s a lovely model and we would like to share it with other families around different parts of the country. There will continue to be a huge gap in the therapies being given to people in need, so we need to be there more than ever and replicating it is so important”.
Photo Caption: Karen O’Mahony, CEO of The Rainbow Club, Catriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners and Graham Clifford, Founder of Sanctuary Runners
Catriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners also sat on the panel to discuss the opportunities and challenges that exist for charities in Cork today. Catriona runs one of Cork's oldest charity organisations which currently serves 1,000 dinners daily to those struggling or in need and helps between 7,000 and 8,000 people per week.
“Giving people dignity is vital – anyone can be down on their luck”, Catriona said. “There are big challenges right now and we are seeing an increased demand for our services. So many new people every day and they are coming for longer”, Catriona said.
Last year, Cork Penny Dinners gave out 9,000 hampers at Christmas worth €100, including 70 hampers alone on Christmas Day.
“No questions asked, no judgement made, that’s our tagline”, said Catriona. “When people are looking for food, they feel they are at the lowest rung, but we tell people not to worry, they have done the right thing by coming. People come with pain and tears, they will walk away feeling better”, she added.
Also joining the panel discussion was Graham Clifford, Founder of Sanctuary Runners, which is a movement that encourages Irish residents to run alongside migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to bring communities in Ireland together and give greater awareness to the migration system.
“I think people get overwhelmed when they think of immigration. The thing is every individual has a role to play in making sure our communities are decent, kind and respectful to everybody.” Graham said.
“I want to enable Irish people to run alongside and in solidarity with people living in direct provision. The integration will happen organically by osmosis. I want to attract more people to take part across the country”, he added.
Nearly 30 cent in every €1 spent on all National Lottery games goes back to Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts, heritage, and the Irish Language. In total more than €6 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 35 years ago. In 2021 alone, €304 million was raised for local Good Causes in communities across Ireland.
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