Volunteers needed – come and be part of our team!

Last year we had more than 60 volunteers give their time to work with us, but we need new blood all the time to keep our services alive. 

While we still await proper and secure funding from the Department of Education and Skills we at the centre continue to commit to offering opportunities to young people who find themselves outside the mainstream.

Due to the efforts of staff, management committee, trustees, parents and supporters we have managed to keep our red doors open for the present. In this regard we would like to thank Tomar Trust, Cork Foundation, Christian Brothers College, Cork Lions Club, Sisters of Mercy Solidarity Trust Fund, ,TUSLA Cork, HSE Social Inclusion Cork, our Trustees and many other groups who have supported the centre in the last year.

We are at capacity for next year in relation to students and it is sad for us but a shame on our government that we have had to turn away over 100 young people whom we could not provide placements for. We would ask you all to continue to voice your support for the centre with politicians as we will! We would also ask that you would spread word of our need for volunteers to work within our community for the coming academic year. Volunteers have and will continue to be along with our students the lifeblood of the Cork Life Centre. Thank you for your continued support.

To tell you a little more about the centre and the work we do: We are a voluntary organisation that offers a second chance at education to young people who find themselves outside the mainstream system. We cater for young people between the ages of 12-18 years who for various reasons have not thrived in a mainstream educational setting.

The Centre and its staff offer our students 1:1 tuition in the core Junior and Leaving Cert subjects and support them in their preparation for these State Exams. Our approach to education is a holistic one and we value the social education of our young people as much as the academic. We endeavour to provide our students with an open and accepting environment in which to encourage them to reach their full potential; to learn vital social and life skills; to develop positive trusting relationships with peers and staff; and to support them with issues and challenges they may face through the provision of counselling and through outreach work.

We are looking for volunteers for the current academic year which runs from Sept 2016 until June 2017.  There are 2 programmes that we run here – daytime and afternoon Volunteers are asked to commit to two days over the academic year, from 9.30 – 2.30. while afternoon is a one day commitment from 2.30 – 5.30. In terms of hours, this varies from 3 hours to 10 hours a week. Though the main role of volunteers is teaching, we value social and personal development equally.

Our approach to education is a holistic one and we endeavour to provide our students with an open and accepting environment in which to encourage them to reach their full potential. This type of work would suit someone who is interested in Teaching, Youth/Community Work, or Social Work. Experience in some of these areas would be beneficial but is not obligatory. More information about the Centre can be found at Facebook (Cork Life Centre) and here. For more information, please contact Thomas by phone or e-mail (021) 4304391 corklifecentre@gmail.com

Volunteers share what it means to help out at the Life Centre

(1) It is difficult to describe what makes the Life Centre so unique and extraordinary, however, it may be best to not even make an attempt at articulating the exceptional. My valued time with the Life Centre has consistently enhanced my personal and professional perspectives and furthermore, has implored upon me the importance of responding to individual needs, respect of the individual and generating an atmosphere embodied with hope and aspiration towards achieving the anticipated unachievable.

It is with honour, appreciation and respect that I recollect my time with the Life Centre and it is to them that I owe many of the greater aspects of my value and belief system. I only wish them continuity and consistency, because whatever they are doing, they are doing it right.

(2) The Cork Life Centre is a place where we all belong. Young and old engage as friends and mentors, ensuring the best of each one of us is brought to the fore. My time in the Cork Life Centre as an Art teacher began in 2012 when the opportunity to help Junior and Leaving Cert students prepare for their state exams presented. I am not a native of Ireland but my love of art, my art qualifications at FETAC Level 6, my experience of working with people marginalised by society and my role as a mother were all taken into consideration in my appointment.

(3) The word “life” implies activity, energy, something going on. At the Life Centre , you find life in all these ways: teenage energy mixed with older wisdom and often the two do a merry dance where both student and tutor are thrown together to solve the mysteries of the world-together. Besides the exams, the deadlines, the three month break we are all loathe to take, there are friendhips, there is respect, there is an understanding amongst everyone in the centre that life is there for the taking.

(4) From the moment you step inside the doors of the Life Centre you are greeted with respect and acceptance irrespective of your background or current difficulties. Those fortunate enough to be part of this learning environment are privileged to something very rare: to be held in positive regard without condition or limits. This is a revelation for many, a first for a few. The recognition “that there is a place for me after all – somewhere I am accepted” has profound meaning for young people. Sadly, there are very few places remaining that cultivate such an atmosphere.

I consider the two years I spent volunteering at the Life Centre among the most important and formative experiences in my life so far. I learnt many lessons from some amazing staff members and some inspirational pupils. While, I have forgotten many of the names and faces, I will never forget how I felt being part of that community. At the Life Centre everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn.

(5) it is hard to explain what happens in the centre without actually experiencing it. It is easy to list some of our activities: we reach and attend classes; we sit across from students at desks, kitchen worktops and woodwork benches, across clay and canvas and we all learn; we cook and eat together; we talk; we listen; we joke; we challenge and correct; we praise and commend; we celebrate occasions little and large; we laugh a lot; we cry(we do not shy away from tears) and sometimes we sit in silence if that’s what seems right. But I think what really happens in a larger sense and what makes it an exceptional place to be is that it is a place where we are given the opportunity to be our very best selves, they very best if imperfect version we were intended to be. And I don’t just to refer to students when I say this but to staff and to myself and the opportunities I have been given to learn and grow during my time there. At the centre, everyone is accepted for who they are, where they are in their lives at that given point and yet at the same time there a gently challenging expectation in place that we push ourselves and grow to our potential.

(6) After finishing college and not being able to find a job I knew I could come back to the Life Centre and be doing something worthwhile. Working in the Life Centre has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever been involved in. I have learned so much in my time here and also realised that youth work was something I wanted to pursue as a career.

Working in the Life Centre is unique compared to anywhere else I have worked. They work relentlessly to help each and every student in all aspects of their life. Due to the nature of the Centre being mostly volunteer-run everyone who is there wants to be there and wants to help these young people reach their full potential. Personally I admire the ongoing work they do every day and it is a privilege to have been part of the team working there.

 

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