Dóchas Midwest have been running play and social interaction clubs for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since 2013 and have grown from 10 children to 130 in this period
Dóchas Midwest next project is to get into employment through different initiatives
Dóchas Midwest Autism Support is a registered charity and social enterprise based in Limerick that provides services to support children, young people and adults with Autism, as well as their parents and family members in the Midwest region.
Dóchas currently provides services directly and indirectly linked to Autism to 645 people on a weekly basis. They continue to strive to grow in numbers and services year on year.
Dóchas Midwest was initially set up in 1997 by a group of parents and in 2011, the JP McManus Fund purchased the charity a building and they moved into the building in 2013, which allowed them to expand and grow their services.
They have been running play and social interaction clubs for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since 2013 and have grown from 10 children to 130 in this period. Their activities highlight the benefits of play and social interaction for children with ASD with improvements in communication, movement, behaviour, and social development. Activities take place over the nine activity rooms in the centre.
They have social clubs, speech and language, music therapy, parent support groups, movement and recreation, fitness, a schools programme and a charity shop which supplies funding to run their services. They have over 130 kids active on a weekly basis in their social interaction club.
Alan Meaney, Development Officer at Dóchas Midwest explained, “Every single person with autism has different interests so we developed interaction rooms that everyone may have an interest in such as a multi activity room, an art room, a music room, a lego room and a games room. A hangout space for teenagers and young adults gives them a place to go and feel safe and provides them with better social skills when they go out into the world.”
Anne O’Connor, Manager Dochas Charity Shop at 14 Parnell Street said, “Autism is a spectrum of disorders so there is a whole lot of learning to be done and a lot of disciplines required to step on and help these kids develop to their full potential. The parents within our group have support group meetings and they are the experts as they can tell you everything, so we lean on them and learn from them.”
Ann added, “We get donations from our members and the public. Our staff comes from community employment schemes. Three of the staff were previous members who progressed into volunteering and then became staff. If you come to work at Dochas, we all have fun but work towards a common goal.”
Cyril Killeen, Manager Dóchas Autism said, “Our next project is to develop our top floor to support as many people as possible with autism to get into employment through different initiatives. Last year we introduced our life skills programmes to build confidence and skills to go out into the world and get jobs. We are very excited to expand our services over the coming years to facilitate this fantastic community of children and adults. We get very positive feedback from families. We have very limited resources but we are consistently helping over 130 families on a weekly basis so we are doing something right.”
About Social Enterprise Limerick
Learning Hub Limerick is a member of Social Enterprise Limerick, a practitioners’ network of Social Enterprises in Limerick City. The overall objective of Social Enterprise Limerick is to provide a local platform for social enterprises to meet, network, share their experiences and learn from each other. The network encourages collaboration and the sharing of resources to help members to advance their community, social and/or environmental goals and is involved in a range of training, development and promotional activities.
In 2022, Social Enterprise Limerick was approved for funding under the ARISE programme, which is a Dormant Accounts funded initiative for the promotion of Social Enterprise. The ARISE funding was utilised to develop a range of promotional materials for network members and to highlight the activities of the SEL network, with a particular focus on the development of digital media/video content.
Social Enterprise Limerick was initiated by Paul Partnership under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (known as SICAP). SICAP provides social inclusion support to individuals and community organisations and is co-funded by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Rural and Community Development and the European Union.
For more information on the SEL ARISE project contact Michael Gleeson, Social Enterprise Officer at PAUL Partnership or visit www.socialenterpriselimerick.ie #SocialEnterpriseLimerick