21 May 2021
By Elaine Murphy
Cope Foundation, an organisation supporting 2,800 people with an intellectual disability and/or autism across Cork city and county, used its AGM last evening (Thursday, May 20th) as an opportunity to praise the resilience, passion and commitment shown by its staff and the people it supports. For the second year in a row the organisation held a hybrid event with most members attending the meeting virtually.
A priority for the organisation is evolving its service to smaller, more locally based homes, hubs and day centres, in line with international best practice. The organisation is committed to further developing a rights-based approach to delivering services and supporting people to live a life of their choosing, connected and participating in their community.
Outgoing Chairman John Punch says: “I wish to sincerely thank the staff of Cope Foundation, many of whom have been directly exposed to the pandemic, for the way in which they have selflessly risen to the challenge of this crisis. Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of de-congregated settings and the requirement for better housing and supports. Our home means so much to us as individuals. The people we support must have choice and control around their home. Cope Foundation is excited and proud to be supporting people on their journey to creating their own home in a community of their choosing.”
Cope Foundation responded to the Covid-19 situation in many ways, for example by increasing the use of technology and digital platforms to support the provision of services and supports; the redeployment of staff from day and multi-disciplinary services to residential services; the development of an in-house vaccination team; and the development of a person-centred hybrid model of supporting people.
Sean Abbott, Chief Executive of Cope Foundation, says: “There is no doubt that 2021 will continue to challenge us all on many fronts but we will work tirelessly to meet that challenge head on. We plan to develop and increase the number and range of individualised person-centred supports. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) guides us as we evolve our services and supports over the coming months and years. This human rights treaty is in place to protect and reaffirm the human rights of people with disabilities. The right to an ordinary life, participating as equal citizens in our community will be our sole focus together at Cope Foundation.”
John Punch’s two year term as Chairman of the Board of Directors came to an end at the AGM. Gearóid Gilley has now taken over the role and Donna Roche was elected Vice Chair. CEO Sean Abbott used the opportunity to thank John Punch and the entire Board of Directors for their guidance and support, and for giving their time and expertise to Cope Foundation.
The AGM was told about developments in services with Community Hubs, short breaks and independent living. In September 2020, Cope Foundation took over operational responsibility for the St. Vincent’s Centre in Blackpool, following a request from the HSE. Over the next two years, the organisation will work with the people supported there and staff so that the people there can move to a home of their choosing in the community.
2020 was the second year of Cope Foundation’s Ability@Work programme, a dedicated supported employment service which aims to bring young people with an intellectual disability and/or autism closer to the labour market. Despite the challenges of 2020, a total of 60 people supported by Cope Foundation were in employment through the programme and 15 new frontline worker jobs were secured. Roots Coffee House in Beech Hill Garden Centre also continued to flourish despite the pandemic and a second Roots Coffee House opened in the UCC Student Hub.
In 2020, a total of €1,010,160 was fundraised and this funded the upgrade and modification of a house to support the de-congregation policy; investment in augmentative and alternative communication devices including training and support; and the purchase of vehicles.