The CEO and co-founder of The Rainbow Club has called on those in power to use their influence to push for a new site for the Cork charity.
The Rainbow Club has provided a lifeline to families, children, young teens, and adults living with Autism since it opened in Mahon in 2015.
Speaking to Gráinne Seoige at an event celebrating Cork’s community and charity sector, Karen O’Mahony described how her vision started with just one room but having grown exponentially since its initial opening, and the charity is now under pressure to meet demand.
“We have 1,064 children a week in The Rainbow Club right now. We can’t go any further where we are. We are at capacity. I don’t want to turn families away,” Ms O’Mahony revealed.
The autism charity founder highlighted how desperate they are to expand the service for the families that rely on it.
“The Rainbow Club right now can’t secure funding because we don’t own our own site. We need our own home so that we can secure funding from the Government. The families want to stay in Mahon and there are two or three potential sites there. We had a commitment from the Taoiseach a few weeks ago about a site but we haven’t heard anything to date.”
The charity is calling on ministers and politicians across the country to use their influence to help with the acquisition of a new site.
“We need a new home. There are a huge amount of people who are ready to come on board, but we need a lot of influence right now to push it and to get that site.”
Ms O’Mahony stressed the importance of being able to adapt their services in order to meet the growing demand, and address the challenges faced by children with autism and their families.
“We need to be able to prepare and forward think for what our children need as they grow. A lot of our teens and young adults that are there right now, we know what they need. We want to add respite, we want to add additional education to that because we know that we can do this, we’ve piloted loads of these already.”
With families travelling from as far as Dungarvan and Dublin, Ms O’Mahony longs to see The Rainbow Club spread throughout the country, offering even just an hour of respite to struggling families.
“We want to bring families together, to have a hub where a family can have their child get the support that they need and to give mum and dad a break. An hour can make such a difference to a parent who is sleep deprived. It means the world,” she expressed.