As Tico's Wounds Were Healing, His Bond With Máirín Was Growing

Máirín’s relationship with Dog’s Trust began when she came to us wanting to re-home a dog. She re-homed this beautiful little Pomeranian-type called Tico. He needed an extra-special home, with a really gentle and understanding owner that would help him, because it was clear that he’d had a difficult past. He came to us as an abandoned dog and he had some injuries.

“When Máirín first saw Tico, it was love at first sight!”

We were giving her a few options of dogs that would suit her, but when Tico was recommended she fell head over heels in love -  and so did he!

The staff at Dog's Trust mentioned the Canine Care Card to Mairín. A worry for people, particularly people who are by themselves with their animals, is what would happen to their dog if they passed away. Máirín signed up straight away for a free Canine Care Card. We invited her to be the face of the campaign and this is just such a beautiful photo that was captured. It really shows that relationship between people and their dogs.

For Máirín it's all about peace of mind. It's about knowing that her best friend, her loved companion, her family member, will be looked after when she's gone. What it means for Tico, is that Dog's Trust will bring him into our care and find a Forever Home for him.

Any dog who comes into our care gets any veterinary treatment that they need and is behaviourally assessed. As part of the Canine Care Card application, we ask a questionnaire on the dog so their owner can tell us about their favourite food or their favourite toy, about anything that makes them happy or anything that they're worried about, so that we can get to know them through the eyes of their owner and we can then get the dog ready for rehoming and hopefully get that dog into a new home soon.

“Dog's grieve, just like people do. The thing they can't do is verbalise how they feel. But you can see that they're lost and that they're trying to adapt.”

Some of the dogs have literally been with their person 24/7, so to suddenly not have them in their life, and then be in a new environment, can be quite overwhelming. We're always particularly conscious when we're handling dogs who have come in through the Canine Care Card scheme; that soft support, company, love and TLC... they need it even more. I really see the staff and the volunteers make an extra fuss over these dogs, knowing that they've been through such a period of change.

When little Tico first came to Dog's Trust, he found getting handled in the veterinary environment quite stressful and he was shy getting to know new people. When Tico first went to Máirín to live, he was like a shadow of himself. He had injuries and had received a lot of treatment; we had to shave him back and his haircut left a little to be desired, so he wasn't looking his best!

“But you could see as his wounds were healing, his bond with Máirín was growing. His little character and personality started shining through.”

 The relationship they have now, a few years down the line, is second-to-none and Máirín is so relieved to know that in the event of the worst happening, Tico would be well looked after by Dog's Trust.

Cat Brit, Head of Operations, Dog’s Trust

The Dogs Trust Dublin centre rehomed 2,888 dogs in 2015

It Was Like The Games At Barretstown Were Gluing My Boys Back Together

Before Barretstown I didn’t know if my four children would ever play together again. Going there changed that, and I am so grateful.

Anyone who’s been through it knows that the fight to save your child’s life is all consuming; hospital visits, chemotherapy, operations, scans, radiation the list goes on. You’re constantly fighting. Fighting for your child who’s sick. But also, fighting to keep the show on the road. To keep your whole family together.

The first time I cried was when the social worker in Crumlin told us about Barretstown. The minute she said it would help bring my children back together I broke down.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God to actually have the boys play together again’. I couldn’t believe a place like that existed.”

A place where we could all be together and Seán would have all the support and expertise he needed onsite. I knew we needed to go there.

Seán and his twin brother Thomas were just six years old when Seán got sick. I’ll never forget the moment I noticed Seán’s tummy looked unusually big under his t-shirt. I remember asking him ‘Seán what have you stuffed under your shirt?’ When I looked there was nothing under his t-shirt but later when I touched his tummy I could feel something was wrong. My little boy’s tummy was hard and I could feel a big lump under his skin. I felt sick. Sick with fear of what that lump might be.

My husband Kevin and I went straight to our local hospital, where the doctors knew almost immediately what was wrong. Seán had a tumour. He was only six years old and he had cancer. I felt the world collapsing around me. But that was just the first day in the very long and difficult journey that lay ahead.

There were times when he told me, ‘I’m really scared mammy’. Those were terrible moments.

I found it really hard to keep it together but I had to for Seán. To get him ready for surgery, Seán underwent four weeks of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour. Seeing my child go through so much pain and trauma was incredibly difficult. All I wanted to do was take his place, but I couldn’t. I could only hold his hand and tell him everything was going to be ok. I couldn’t let Seán see how scared I really was. I’ll never forget how vulnerable he looked after his surgery. He had wires and tubes coming from everywhere. He was relying on oxygen to breathe. It was the most miserable I’ve ever seen him.

I saw a distance develop between Seán and his brothers. Thomas and Rory were becoming closer and closer as Seán was retreating further and further into himself.

Before Barretstown I didn’t know if my four children would ever play together again. Going there changed that. That’s the thing about Barretstown, no-one gets left out.

“It was like the games at Barretstown were gluing my boys back together.”

And it was all happening in the safest environment possible that gave Kevin and me such peace of mind. We arrived in Barretstown a family exhausted and in pieces. We left a family who knew what it was to laugh again.

Barretstown served 6,237 campers in 2016

Bernard Has Been On Dialysis Since He Was Born

There’s a big change in him. It’s a whole different ball game.

Bernard is eight years old and has attended Children’s University Hospital Temple Street since he was a baby. Charities Institute Ireland spoke to Bernard’s dad, Bernard Snr.

“Bernard has been on dialysis since he was born. He was born with renal failure and he was on home dialysis for a while but that didn’t really work out; he picked up infections. Then he was about four years on haemodialysis, which he had to travel to Temple Street for. We live out near Clifden in Galway so we had to travel to Dublin and back three times a week for bloods and check-ups.

In December, Bernard got a new kidney from a donor.

He had the transplant at Temple Street. It’s nerve wracking to be in that situation. The call came at about 2 o’clock in the morning so we had to get him up and head for Dublin. We got there around 7am and then he spent all day in theatre.

On the call, Temple Street tried to keep us from being too nervous. They told us everything was going to be OK and gave us the proceedings for the day. Bernard was in hospital for about three weeks after the transplant and they monitored him carefully and kept his mood up too. The nurses are always in good form and they can get the Play Therapist to come and visit the kids too. If they’re down or cross she’ll come to them and play a game or bring them to the playroom. It’s been good for Bernard. They make it as homely as possible for the kids.

Now, Bernard only has to travel to Temple Street for check-ups once every three weeks.

He has days where he’ll get a bit down if he’s not 100%, but he’s fairly used to it and he’s doing well since he had the transplant. There’s a big change in him now. It’s a whole different ball game at home. We have more time together now. He can wrap everybody around his finger with that cheeky little smile.”

Over 143,000 children were treated in Temple Street Children’s Hospital in 2015

It Doesn’t Matter What Age You Are

It was the solidarity that people felt stronger, and better able, because they were with other people as a movement.

Robin Webster, Founder of Age Action Ireland, reflects on the charity’s momentous protest against the Government’s proposed withdrawal of the automatic right to medical cards for over 70s. 

“This was the first event of its kind that we organised and, I can say on behalf of the staff, that it was the members who pushed us into it. It was literally a mass movement of people protesting about the withdrawal of the automatic right to the medical card.

I remember we organised a room for 300 people at the Alexander Hotel. One of my colleagues, Lorraine, made alternative arrangements with Westland Row church, just in case the turnout was too large. At a quarter to eleven, just a few minutes before we were supposed to start, there were 300 people in the hotel, at least another 300 out on the street, and I thought, ‘This is far too small, they’ll have to go to the church.’ 

We ended up having between 1600 - 1800 people marching that day.

The really important thing about the event was that it was the members themselves that came up in their droves and, secondly, people were so engaged by it. The outstanding thing I remember was that all the men were putting their hands up wanting to speak.

After a while I said, ‘Look, the majority of older people are women, let’s hear the women’, and a series of women came up to speak. All these women said, ‘You know, this is the first time I’ve ever spoken in public.’ And yet they did it.

It was the solidarity that people felt stronger, and better able, because they were with other people as a movement. It was very exciting, and people still talk about being in ‘The Class of 2008’  - and our membership figures rose.

It was one of those rare occasions where the Cabinet changes its mind at 11 o’clock in the morning, all because a group of older people were going to meet an hour later. It was extraordinary. Politicians and other groups continue to refer to ‘Westland Row’. We should do it more often to be honest.

There were quite a lot of younger people interested too and the solidarity between the generations is very important. That’s one of our priorities at Age Action:

It doesn’t matter what age you are, we’re all aging together and we have to support each other.”

In 2016 Age Action Care and Repair teams carried out over 32,400 jobs, befriending visits, trade referrals and telephone contacts with older people

You Cannot Have Faith Without Justice

Faith is not just something that is reserved for inside a church door.

I work as Justice Co-ordinator for the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (AMRI). Working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers is one of the main areas of justice for AMRI. Irish people are undocumented in other parts of the world, particularly in the US, so for St. Patrick’s Day we wanted to collaborate with Migrant Rights Centre, who were hosting an event where the undocumented in Ireland were sending greetings to the undocumented in the US.  We wanted to highlight the need for changes in our own legislation to protect the rights of undocumented people and to look for the introduction of a regularisation scheme to allow undocumented migrants the chance to come forward and regularise their situation.

This photo was taken at that event which was held on the 16th March, 2017.  We had 50 or 60 people outside the Central Bank in Dublin and the atmosphere was good – even though it was absolutely freezing cold!  The people who came wanted to express that solidarity with the undocumented people, some of whom spoke on the evening. 

There are between 20,000 and 26,000 people undocumented in our own country. We are very good at looking for rights for our own undocumented people aboard, but we are not as good at recognising how unjustly we treat undocumented people in our own country. We tend to work for the rights of our little Irish community in the US, rather than proclaiming solidarity with all the people who are looking for pathways for citizenship throughout our world. So this event was about changing the Irish mindset to not just think of ourselves. When we think back to our own history, remembering that our people had to leave their homeland in search of a better life, we should be able to demonstrate greater solidarity with different groups of people who find themselves in the same situation as we have been, both in our past and today.

This work moves you. I’m from Donegal and there are many from my own county who were and are undocumented people in the US. One of them made the news recently as he is going to be deported right now from Trump’s America. So, of course, it moves me; members of my family and people I know have been in that situation. I think all people have a right to move around the world in search of a better life.  

The whole premise to any kind of faith context is love of neighbour and seeking justice. You cannot have faith without justice. Faith can only have a vibrancy when it’s lived out in the actions.  This demands that we have an explicit option for the poor, for those on the margins of society.  It means that we must participate in changing the structures to ensure that all people have full participation and equal rights. Otherwise as it says in scripture “faith without works is dead.”

The biblical message is about loving your neighbour as yourself.  This has to be done with concrete actions. It is not something that falls out of the sky; it’s not something abstract. It has to be something that is there as an ideal, but also as something that we do in solidarity with those who are looking for the same thing – to love their neighbour. Especially those who are on the margins, the people who are cast aside and who do not have full participation in whatever society they are in. Whether it is women, people from different religions, sexual persuasion, or race. Faith is not just something that is reserved for inside a church door

Sr Sheila Curran, Justice Co-ordinator, AMRI

The purpose of AMRI will be to represent and promote active collaboration between Religious Institutes, Societies of Apostolic Life and Missionary Organisations

A Lasting Relationship

One woman who Trish and Gerry met in Nepal had gone on to become an elected member of the local government.

Trish and Gerry Kerr have been child sponsors since they got married, nearly 30 years ago. In May 2016 they visited the child they sponsor in Nepal in May 2016, at their own expense. Sujit, now 16, is the third child they sponsored and they have been sponsoring him for seven years. Through child sponsorship Trish and Gerry have taught their own children about the world, as well as funding the development of some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

On visiting the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal, Trish and Gerry were delighted not only to meet Sujit and see how he has benefited from being a sponsored child, but also to meet all members of the community who had benefited from child sponsorship. They were particularly struck by the women’s group ActionAid had set-up.

By taking a human rights based approach ActionAid promotes the right to active, free and meaningful participation for all, it addresses discrimination and prioritises vulnerable groups and clarifies links between rights and duties, as well as the relationships between rights-holders (citizens) and duty-bearers (for example police, hospitals and legal systems). Creating local women’s groups and grassroots community groups are a fundamental part of this work.

One woman who Trish and Gerry met from the lowest caste in Nepal had, through training and encouragement by ActionAid and the women’s group, gone on to become an elected member of the local government – she is now advocating to improve the lives of women, children and vulnerable groups in the wider community. This is one of countless examples of real and lasting change made by child sponsors, like Trish and Gerry, around the world.

ActionAid work in 45 countries around the world to support people to fight for and gain their rights to education, food, shelter, work and basic healthcare

This Is Our Bed

He couldn’t remember living somewhere where he didn’t have to ask to leave a room. He didn’t know how to behave in his own home.

This image is so powerful; it shows children in a cosy home setting. It’s the perfect representation of love, warmth, safety and security; a scene that many take for granted.

Crucially, our work always comes back to children like the ones in this photo. Parents work incredibly hard to shield their children from the effects and stress of homelessness. They want to make sure their children still have the best chance. We work with parents to make sure these children don’t fall behind in school, that they don't become stressed or develop problems with nutrition. If families are in a hotel room eating a meal together on the bed every day, this becomes the normal day to day routine for a child and that is not how family life should be.

One of our customers fought for almost a year to get out of emergency accommodation and into a home. When this finally happened, her youngest child kept asking permission to go upstairs. He couldn’t remember living somewhere where he didn’t have to ask to leave a room. He didn’t know how to behave in his own home.

For me, this photograph conveys the hope that we try to give to people. We stand in their corner. We act as their champion and we stick with them so they can build a safe and secure home for themselves and their children.

Rachel Murphy, Co-Director of Fundraising at Focus Ireland

Supported over 13,500 people who were homeless or at risk in 2016

Keeping Sisters Close

I have become so used to seeing certain little faces coming into us. It’s almost like having extended family members around. The whole idea is to keep the kids together and to keep families close

Shannon is almost one and has been with us since she was bornBefore her birth, her family knew that their baby would have a heart condition, preventing them from bringing her home to live with her parents and siblings.

These sisters do not have a normal relationship, as a little girl and her baby sister should. For a long time, Rihanna couldn’t really touch Shannon, or hug her. But during the time that the girls spent here together, I saw a bond developing between them. I watched how fond they were becoming of one another.

Rihanna is nine now, she is such a lovely little girl. She gets so excited to see her little sister, at the weekends and during school holidays. At the start, Shannon wasn't really aware of what was happening around her. But Rihanna was so patient, she would just sit by her side and chat and talk to her baby sister.

I think Rihanna sees me as the fun one; she likes to come and see me, because she knows I am the one who has the key to the toy box! But through this, we often end up chatting, talking about school and stuff like that. I can tell she is happy to be here with her family.

It’s very hard, to see families being separated sometimes. But then when they arrive, the excitement they feel at being brought together again is so positive. We try to focus on the positives of these stories. I have become so used to seeing certain little faces coming into us. It's almost like having extended family members around. The whole idea is to keep the kids together and to keep families close.

Joanne Kiely - Digital Media & Fundraising Administrator at The Ronald McDonald House Charity

The Ronald McDonald House provided 6,937 bed nights last year so families could stay close to their hospitalised child

In CRC Every Child Is An Artist

I remember the day he said, “I think today I’d like to draw my hand.” I just thought to myself, oh my God, he’s talking about himself for the first time. I was spellbound

A few years ago, the student in this picture wouldn’t have been able to do that; he would have picked anything to draw rather than himself. He’s in his final year now but initially he wasn’t aware that there was any artistic talent within him - he wasn’t even speaking. Now, he’s in an environment where he feels safe, accepted and nurtured. Gradually, through a holistic approach, he has bloomed into a guy who is ready to leave us this year and move on into adult services. So, for me, this picture shows him coming to terms with his physical disability, and therefore he’s able to take on the world.

I remember the day he said, “I think today I’d like to draw my hand.” I just thought to myself, oh my God, he’s talking about himself for the first time. I was spellbound.

It takes somebody very accepting of themselves; of what they’re able to do, and what they’re not able to do, in life.
It takes somebody like that to create art.

I was 25 years working in mainstream school, and I loved it, but I took a career break and came in to the CRC as a substitute and I just fell in love with it. So I left a permanent, pensionable job to come in and go for a full-time job here. There’s something about social development, the holistic approach they take here, that’s just amazing. I suppose, because many of my students are compromised intellectually, standing in front of me every day are children who need nurturing regarding emotional development, social development, independence development; they need all that.

I take a different perspective on life now.
I’ve changed completely, my personality has bloomed.

I can give much more of myself and I think that’s why I was frustrated working in mainstream school; I was becoming a person who wasn’t very nice; I had to be so cross and strict all the time. Working with the CRC has just made me a better person.

Marie Talty, CRC School Art Teacher

Last year, children attended the CRC services over 79,000 times across medical, therapy and specialist services