Delight for iCARE as planning permission for multi-purpose building is granted

The new building will be located at iCARE's current base in Ballymacarry.

The new building will be located at iCARE's current base in Ballymacarry.

iCARE (Inishowen Children’s Autism Related Education) are ‘overwhelmed’ after planning permission was granted for an exciting 1,700 square metre centre which will be based at their current property in Ballymacarry, Buncrana.

iCARE was established in 2000, and has gone from strength to strength.

The local charity is always evolving and constantly achieves great success through the hard work and determination of the families involved. In the initial years the organisation focused on training and education needs with significant success with a lot of great work in conjunction with Scoil Iosagain.

Parent Liam Gill stated that everyone at iCARE and Sonas Youth Club were overwhelmed with the news of the planning permission being granted for a multi-purpose building for autism and intellectual disabilities in the area.

He said they were currently exploring funding opportunities for the much-needed building and have included the young people from Sonas with ideas and suggestions for the building.

Mr Gill said it was “exciting times” for the group, which currently have over 100 members from around Inishowen.

He added: “We are so lucky that the community have supported us and carried us through the last 16 years. We are very grateful to George McLaughlin who initially allowed us to use his ground in 2007 in Ballymacarry, then HML Mark and Hubert McLaughlin, this is where our centre is based.

“We have two temporary pre-fabricated cabins, which again was the local community who helped us kit these out. In 2014 with the help of the Buncrana County Council we purchased the land where our centre is now located.”

Liam told how, over the years, the centre has been a ‘Godsend’ for families.

He said: “For example, with our own son Ryan, we could avail of the centre on Christmas Day or when he was younger, when he would have meltdowns or needed more support we always had somewhere to take him without any crowds or judgement, and it felt like a safe, secure environment that met his needs.”

Liam added that iCARE and Sonas Youth club prides itself on its person-centred approaches.

“Throughout our organisation we consider it vital that we get to know the person with an autism spectrum condition, and also understand how their autism impacts on their life. We feel that every person with autism is unique, and that their autism impacts on them uniquely. We continue to promote the rights, wellbeing and opportunities of children and young people with an autistic spectrum condition, their parents and carers. We have provided support, training and information to parents and carers of children and young people with autism spectrum disorders.”

He continued: “We continue to provide respite, play and leisure opportunities to children and young people on the autism spectrum disorder. Our aim is to provide an environment in which children and young people on the autism spectrum disorder can build their confidence and develop their social skills. We promote increased awareness of autistic spectrum conditions in the wider community.”

iCARE provide after school respite for the members. They host weekly art clubs, drama clubs, inclusion kids club, computer classes, cookery and music clubs. At present, they are currently running Summer programmes which consist of trips out all around the north west and further afield. They are focusing on health and fitness this summer with coaches Oisin O’Flaherty, Kevin Treacy and Eoghan O’Doherty, which has been very successful to date.

In 2012, they established a very successful youth club called Sonas Youth Club for ages 11+. This club is affiliated with Foroige and aims to work with the young people to encourage socialisation, life skills, active citizenship, communication and they have a commitment to uphold youth work core values such as equity, diversity and interdependence; inclusiveness; respect; partnership and empowerment. Sonas Youth club has won various awards and feedback from the young people and parents has been very positive to date.

iCARE is hosting a Swing and Easy listening night at the Lake of Shadows Hotel, Buncrana on Saturday 6th August 2016. The concert features Paul Lambert and special guests Sean McCarron, Anne Treacy with Frank Cassidy and LaRingabellas. The show starts at 8:30pm, with doors opening at 8pm. Tickets are available at the Lunch Box, Macs Newsagents andf the Lake of Shadows, cost €15 and that includes a hot buffet meal. Everyone welcome, music for all tastes.

For any further information about iCARE or Sonas Youth club, get in touch with centre manager Liam Gill on 0863571375 or email liamgill@hotmail.com.

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