St. Michael’s Centre has a long community-based history stretching back to 1969 when St. Michael’s first opened its doors as a residential unit for older people and began supplying Meals on Wheels to the local community. St. Michael’s Centre was started by local people who saw the need for the development of services and accommodation for older people in the area. Subsequently, Avenue House was opened in the 1980s. At its peak, St. Michael’s Centre catered for 24 residents and supplied meals on wheels in the vicinity of Bandon funded by the Health Service Executive.
In 2014 the HSE Community Work Department began funding more service. Under the direction of the Board of Management Coordinator Rita Kearney was employed to develop a range of services. St. Michael’s Centre was refurbished which was funded by the Department of Environment and Cork County Council. This upgrade allowed the services to be developed further and for the provision of meeting rooms which can be rented at low cost by community groups and organisations. The community resource centre for older people grew slowly, opening three mornings a week to begin with and after some time opening for four full days a week. The services grew from the expressed needs of the community, a place to drop-in and feel welcome, a place to have a cup of tea and a chat, a place where services and information can be provided to those that need them. Services were developed such as Care Ring, Care & Repair, a Visiting
Service and the continuation of the Meals on Wheels service. The Digital Eye Computer Club was initiated by Eileen O Sullivan to help older people learn how to use their mobile phone, laptop or tablet. The Bandon Family Carers support group was set up to give support to those caring for loved ones. The expansion of St. Michael’s Centre over the next few years grew further to offer information and resource service, a social programme, events and community services to those in the Bandon area. Citizens Information became available each Thursday 10:00-4:00 and provides up to date, impartial information on welfare rights and entitlements. The service is confidential and free. The centre also supports a network of social active retirement groups in Newcestown, Crookstown, Ballineen-Enniskeane, Kilbrittain, Ballinspittle, Knockavilla and two groups in Bandon town.
2018 was a year which brought to fruition the completion of nine independent living homes at Avenue Grove, Ballymoden Place. The efforts of the voluntary buildings’ sub-committee at St. Michael’s Centre who worked tirelessly to make this happen, must be recognised. Thanks to the support of several Cork County Council officials and guidance from the Department of the Environment, the organisation was delighted to welcome ten residents in May 2018. St. Michael’s Centre secured funding from the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) run by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to build the state-of-the-art units which provide long-term, secure accommodation for older people. The organisation welcomed new coordinator Colette O Connor in August 2018. She is responsible for daily operations, development of services and ensuring the services we provide are in keeping with the highest quality standards. The organisation has in place a fully functioning Voluntary Board of Management; individuals are actively involved in the centre and its activities and many have themselves been volunteering with the service in the past. They not only understand and value the services but are passionate about ensuring St. Michael’s Centre remains well governed, well managed and financially viable into the future.
At present the centre is open Monday to Friday 9.00-5.00 and we welcome visits for people looking for more information. St. Michael’s Centre is grounded in the Community Development approaches of empowerment, human rights, inclusion, social justice, self-determination and collective action (Kenny, 2007).
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