Posted: 12th September 2015

Conor Daly (OC’85) writes to tell us that the Clongowes Youth Café – an initiative of the Clongowes Union and the Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT) – is now complete and set to open its’ doors on October 7th. The Café close to the Mater Hospital and within 5 minutes walk of O’Connell St, is a very well appointed two storey terraced building. Originally comprising two Victorian houses the building has been extensively refurbished to combine both properties and now provides a very modern retail facade leading to a first rate space where clients of the Trust can interact with qualified staff, rest and take their ease in a safe environment. The Café also provides a fully equipped kitchen together with shower facilities, which should be a wonderful addition to the great work that the Trust is undertaking.

The Café is a successor to the Clongowes Youth Club of happy memory, which was established in 1942. Situated in Coppinger Row the Club provided a friendly, safe place for the young boys and girls of the area, aged 7-15, to play pool and table tennis and to generally socialise. However, with increased child protection, changing social needs, decreasing volunteer numbers and a fire in 2009 the Youth Club closed. This presented the Union with a chance to reassess how it might make a contribution to the wider community and, following an extensive review of ‘How the Union might act for others’, it was decided to support the Peter McVerry Trust.

Help wanted

The Café will open for evening sessions on Wednesday the 7th October 2015 and each week the Trust will present on a particular theme, inviting organisations like Mental Health Ireland and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services to speak on positive mental health etc while also providing a safe space for clients to meet in the evening. However, to ensure that the Café can open late (7pm – 9pm) volunteers are needed to work with qualified PMVT staff and induction sessions have been arranged to ensure that all volunteers are properly informed and Garda vetted. OCs interested in assisting at the Café will be required to attend two induction classes, which will take place at the Youth Café, which is situated on Berkeley St, and will last for 60/90 minutes. The first session will take place at 7pm on Wednesday the 23rd of September, with the second on the 30th and volunteers are required to attend both classes. The sessions will cover the mission and aims of the Peter McVerry Trust generally and the services to be provided at the Café. Conor says that they are hoping to attract 20/25 volunteers which would mean that each individual would work at the Café every 4/6 weeks for a period of 2/3 hours. Old Clongownians interested in getting involved may contact Conor at conormdaly@eircom.net.

The challenges of homelessness

After being ordained in 1974 and while living in Summerhill, Peter McVerry (OC’62) saw first hand the challenges of homelessness, opening a hostel for young boys in the late 70s. Peter established the Arrupe Society in 1983 to provide further housing and support for those most in need. This organisation has now grown from the provision of a three-bed apartment in Ballymun to managing over 140 apartments today, changing its name in 2005 to the Peter McVerry Trust. With a turnover of over €9m and 177 employees the Trust continues to work tirelessly to support the most marginalized.

Declan O’Keeffe, Head of Communications 

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