Don Bosco Care Centre
The following is an extract from an article by Mags Gargan in the The Irish Catholic newpaper.
'The homelessness crisis in Dublin has come to the fore in most people’s minds in the last few weeks, especially since the tragic death of Jonathan Corrie, who died sleeping rough near Leinster House. As a result many of the organisations who are doing fantastic work in this area are being highlighted in the media and having their voices heard.
However, there is a group working away quietly in north Dublin, unknown to most people, which offers vital support to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and essentially keeps them from living on the streets.
For 36 years, the Salesian order in Ireland, originally founded by St John (Don) Bosco in 1859, has offered a home to troubled teenagers who can no longer stay with their families, and residential aftercare for young people leaving the care system.
The young people supported by Don Bosco Care are aged 12-22. They come from the most challenging backgrounds and are referred by the social services. These children grow up in homes where violence, addiction, physical and emotional abuses and neglect are commonplace. Many of them struggle to fit into a foster care environment. They have problems trusting adults. They don’t know how to form relationships. When they leave the care system at 18, they find themselves on their own and maybe sleeping on the streets.
The service was founded in 1978 by two Salesian priests, Fr Val Collier and Fr Vincent Diffley (deceased) in response to newspaper reports that young people were ending up on the streets at a very young age.
“At Don Bosco Care we place a very big emphasis on education,” says CEO Brian Hogan. “I think the difference between Don Bosco Care and other organisations is that we are very ambitious for the young people we work with. While we accept them completely at where they are at, we set the bar very high for them. Young people in care have the same right to education as any other young person, and we should be aspiring for them in the same way our parents aspired for us.
“My own strong belief is that, if a young person is gainfully engaged in the daylight hours, in full time education or a job, they have a much better chance of avoiding drug use and crime.”
The service works with young people with mental health issues, addiction issues and learning disabilities. Fr Val says most of them have experienced a lot of trauma and abuse in their lives, and it is a challenge to build up their self-esteem and to help them to move on and build new relationships.
Like all family homes across Ireland, the Don Bosco houses are gearing up for Christmas. Decorations are up, Santa lists are made and the food for the Christmas dinner has been ordered.
“A lot of care and organisation goes into making Christmas a special time for the younger kids. Santa comes round with gifts and we have a Christmas party. There will also be a Christmas dinner in one of the houses for former residents who might be on their own,” Fr Val says.
“It is a tough time for the kids to be away from family, but a family member might come to visit, or they could go home for a night.”
“Our ethos is about giving positive messages to young people because it changes their lives when they open up and tell you their story. They feel comfortable, wanted, accepted and cared for. They begin to feel better about themselves, maybe return to school and they perform better. We have seen young people transform their lives through education, and to perform way beyond our wildest dreams. That is the job satisfaction for us, seeing these young people mature, grow and flower.”
To volunteer, donate or find out more about Don Bosco Care see www.donboscocare.ie or telephone 01-833 6009 or write to Don Bosco Care, 12 Clontarf Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3.'