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St Catherine’s Association in Newcastle, Greystones, has served the people of Co. Wicklow for more than 30 years now and hundreds of families have benefited from the dedication and professionalism of the staff in caring for and educating children with special needs from all over the county. St. Catherine’s Services also provide respite and residential facilities. The services are provided from birth to eighteen years and it is truly a holistic service for the entire family of anyone with a disability.

In recent years the challenge has been to expand to meet the needs of the growing population in Co. Wicklow without compromising on the quality of education and care delivered to the children and their families. As the recent budget has shown, all services to these vulnerable children are in jeopardy during this time of economic uncertainty. This uncertainty is causing anxiety and distress to many families availing of services provided by St. Catherine’s.

This situation has prompted parents to launch the “St. Catherine’s Needs a Helping Hand Appeal.” Parents are asking the wider County Wicklow community to subscribe to the St Catherine’s Fundraising Appeal. A small monthly donation from you might be the helping hand that ensures St Catherine’s can continue to provide these vital facilities for future generations of Wicklow children.

As the appeal was launched, St. Catherine’s Service stated that “it has become apparent in recent weeks, children attending St Catherine’s services are not going to escape unscathed from the Government’s cuts. Parents of these children are well used to fundraising and lobbying to ensure their children can access services to allow them to develop to their fullest potential, but it is a new and horrifying reality to be faced with the prospect that those facilities may now have to be curtailed significantly.”

Speaking on behalf of the parents, Sheena Byrne said that “Thankfully, most families in the county have never had to call on the expertise provided by St Catherine’s and maybe they never will. Perhaps some reading this may someday find themselves needing help for a child, grandchild, niece or nephew. It is difficult for parents who have already traveled this road to explain to others the relief of realising that thanks to the vision and foresight of parents and professionals of 20 and 30 years ago there was an excellent service up and running when it was most needed. It now falls to us as parents to make a desperate call for help to the people of Co. Wicklow.”

Another parent, Joanne Kelly, commented that “this sense of relief drives us to do all in our power to ensure that St Catherine’s endures the current crisis. We owe it to the parents of children with intellectual disabilities 20 or 30 years from now to repay the debt due to those who have gone before us.”

If you live in Ireland please consider our Standing Order form.You’ll hardly notice a small monthly donation, but it will make a vital difference to the children in St Catherine’s. Alternatively please consider a paypal or credit card donation.