Hopes of ‘bright future’ for Cork Life Centre amid funding vow

Hopes of ‘bright future’ for Cork Life Centre amid funding vow

Don O'Leary of the Cork Life Centre

A VOW from the Department of Education to increase funding for staff at Cork Life Centre could ensure that the organisation has a “bright future”, director Don O’Leary has said.

Earlier this year, Cork Life Centre was told it would receive additional funding and teaching support, though it later transpired that the funding was not an income stream for the service.

Instead, the Department of Education proposed that it would transfer surplus staff from other settings. In July, the centre withdrew from talks with the department following what they described as a lack of progress.

However, subsequent to discussions an agreement was reached with regard to provisions for the academic year 2021/2022. 

A spokesperson for the department said the alternative arrangements now being put in place provide increased funding for staff already working in the centre, and do not involve external staff.

Cautiously optimistic

Speaking to The Echo, Mr O’Leary said he is “cautiously optimistic”.

“We’re on the edge of over the next couple of years, working in something that allows the staff to be paid properly, there will be continuity- continuity is hugely important for the children but there will be continuity for the staff, because they won’t have to be moving to get a proper wage,” he said. 

“And that’s huge. That in itself is massive.”

He said he is hopeful that the new arrangements will ensure a ”bright future” for the voluntary organisation which offers an alternative learning environment to the young people of Cork.

The department said it has committed that officials will continue to engage with Cork Life Centre, and the department is of the view that, in a spirit of partnership all parties can work together on the longer-term planning for education provision into the future.

Mr O’Leary added: “We’re delighted to be able to work with the young people we have and moving forward, hopefully, to be able to work with other kids into the future.”

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