By Sean Ryan - 21 May, 2017
Students from a Limerick third level institution were recently acknowledged by the Respond! voluntary housing association for their excellent design work in the renovation of a playroom for homeless women and children.
The Suaimhneas project was opened in Ballygrennan Close, Moyross in 2002 to combat the growing number of homeless women and children who were left with no alternative to living in B&Bs.
Funded by the HSE and Limerick City and County Council, the Suaimhneas centre focuses on helping families with rehousing as well as support and resources to achieve independent living.
Beginning purely as a design competition, the collaboration between LIT and Respond! grew to include local material suppliers who have generously donated the materials and in some cases the labour for the implementation of the new scheme.
The community-spirited suppliers are Dulux Ireland, Forbo Ireland and the Galtee Group (Ballylanders). A number of programmes are offered at Suaimhneas, working to better each family’s time at the centre.
Life skills classes are offered for parents, with a games night and homework club for the children. Ruth Culligan, Care Assistant, has seen the positive results of the classes offered.
Speaking about the project, Paul Hargaden, Regional Manager for Respond Housing, said that “This is an excellent example of real collaboration to the benefit of the local community. This will give a much-needed boost to the service and the families living in Suaimhneas who are experiencing a difficult time in their lives. Now the children will have a beautiful new play area and Dulux Ireland, Forbo Ireland and the Galtee Group are to be sincerely thanked for coming on board with materials and labour. I would like to thank the students for their time and talent [and] for seeking to contribute in a meaningful way and the fantastic companies who joined the team. It shows us that during this homelessness crisis if we all come together we can make a big difference.”
His words were echoed by Pat Gill, Head of Department of the Built Environment at LIT, who said: “We are delighted to help the women and children in the Suaimhneas service and at the same time teach our students the application of design in the real world. The excellent design must have the end service-users in mind and this project is a great learning experience for our students. Design and the built environment around us are also proven to be a major factor in terms of well-being and mental health. We all deserve good design and none more so than the women and children of Limerick who have no home to call their own. We are happy, as always, to assist the good work of Respond! in the Limerick area.”
The Respond! voluntary housing agency was founded by Fr Pat Cogan and the Franciscan Order in Waterford in the early 1980s.