THE CORK Life Centre has been honoured with an award in recognition of the “amazing contribution” the centre has made to the lives of young people in Cork.
The Gradam Meitheal Mara was presented to the Cork Life Centre at a ceremony yesterday and marked the first time that the award was given to an organisation.
In the past, the award was presented to individuals who have made a unique contribution to the mission of Meitheal Mara.
Chairperson of Meitheal Mara, Denis Barrett said the choice to present the award to the Cork Life Centre was to recognise “their amazing contribution to the lives of people in our city and to young people in particular”.
Speaking at the event, Mr Barrett said the centre has made “a huge contribution” to Meitheal Mara and “more importantly, to the lives of young people in the city”.
“Meitheal Mara would share the same sense that when you give a person a new opportunity; when you reach out and find ways to treat everyone as an individual, be learner-centred and find ways to enable them to find their own path - that can create amazing results," said Mr Barrett.
The award was presented by Mr Barrett and Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr John Sheehan.
Mr Sheehan said it was great to see the Centre is recognised for what is just one aspect of the “tremendous” work they’ve done.
"They literally change people’s lives," he said.
Meitheal Mara and the Cork Life Centre have had a partnership for many years and students Luke Tassie and Darcy Browne are just two who were involved in the community boatyard.
With Meitheal Mara, they built a boat “from the ground up”.
“It was interesting to see it all come together,” said Darcy Browne.
Cork Life Centre Administrator Thomas Mulchay said it was a “huge privilege” to receive the award.
He noted how Meitheal Mara has helped many young people to progress while some have also found a flair for working on the water.
Cork Life Centre Director Don O’Leary said it has left a positive impression on many young people.
The Centre recently withdrew from talks with the Department of Education following a lack of progress over an issue with staff retention.
At the moment, Mr O’Leary said the goal is to ensure the students they have now can get through to their Leaving Certificate which may lead to classes being cut if they do not get funding.
“What it would mean is that I’d take no first years next year, take no second years the year after,” he said.
“I don’t want to do that. In no way do we want to do that.”
Mr Mulcahy said that at the moment, the Centre is already forced to turn away up to 200 people each year.
"The best way to serve that is to have the staff that have this experience who are used to working with young people who are no longer in the mainstream system," said Mr Mulcahy.