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Crisis in the community sector - Imminent closure of Carmichael House

category national | miscellaneous | press release author Saturday June 19, 2004 21:26author by Clare McGuinness - Volunteering Irelandauthor email clare at volunteeringireland dot com Report this post to the editors

The Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups is being forced to close on 9 July 2004.

The Dublin-based centre is home to 45 small voluntary and community groups which provide services to 10% of the Irish population nationwide. All of these groups will be evicted on 9 July 2004. The loss of Carmichael Centre’s essential enabling role for all these groups will have serious knock-on effects for the community and voluntary sector nationwide.

STOP PRESS!

The Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups is being forced to close on 9 July 2004.

The Dublin-based centre is home to 45 small voluntary and community groups which provide services to 10% of the Irish population nationwide. All of these groups will be evicted on 9 July 2004. The loss of Carmichael Centre’s essential enabling role for all these groups will have serious knock-on effects for the community and voluntary sector nationwide.

WHY IS THE CENTRE BEING FORCED TO CLOSE?

Carmichael Centre have asked the government to provide core funding of €300,000 per annum on an ongoing basis. This represents only one third of its operating costs, the majority of costs being raised by the Centre through corporate sponsorship, fundraising and member group fees.

Carmichael Centre has a legitimate expectation to secure government core funding to support what is a unique and valuable resource in the Republic of Ireland.

The Department of Health and Children has already indicated they will provide half the government funding - ie. €150,000 per annum. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has been requested for the remaining €150,000. They are currently refusing this request.

THE IMPACT

Volunteering Ireland is currently housed at Carmichael Centre. Volunteering Ireland is the number one provider of specialised training, consultancy and advice on volunteer issues in Ireland. We provide quality support to almost 2,000 voluntary and community groups nationwide. Volunteering Ireland also links volunteers to organisations in the Dublin area, which enables many groups to carry out their vital work - whether in the field of health, disability, sports, education, arts, or a range of other areas. If the Centre closes, Volunteering Ireland will be forced to suspend its vital services, and the impact on our service users and the wider community and voluntary sector in Ireland will be catastrophic.

In addition, the unique support, advice, advocacy and practical services provided by the 44 other member groups (including groups such as Children in Hospital Ireland, Post Polio Support Group, Drama League of Ireland, Canteen [group working for children with cancer], Parentline) will be severely disrupted or even lost. This cannot be allowed to happen.

ACTION

Please support Carmichael Centre and the 45 member groups, and show your support to the community and voluntary sector in Ireland by contacting the Ministers (details below) and asking them to commit to the requested funding to keep this resource alive. Please also contact friends/colleagues/media and inform them of this appalling situation. A few lines, and a few minutes is all it takes.

Minister Éamon Ó Cuív TD
Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
43 - 49 Mespil Road
Dublin 4
Email: ../mailto:eolas@pobail.ie

Noel Ahern TD
Minister of State
Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
43 - 49 Mespil Road
Dublin 4
Tel: 01 647 3000
Fax: 01 647 3151
Email: ../mailto:alockhart@pobail.ie


On behalf of Carmichael Centre and Volunteering Ireland, I would like to thank you for your anticipated support.

Yours sincerely

Clare McGuinness
Executive Officer
Volunteering Ireland
Coleraine House
Coleraine Street
Dublin 7
tel: +353 1 872 2622 ext. 24
fax: +353 1 872 2623
email: ../mailto:clare@volunteeringireland.com
web: www.volunteeringireland.com
...valuing volunteering...

author by Kate O'Sullivanpublication date Sun Jun 20, 2004 18:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Press Release

Carmichael Centre will close on July 9th
Carmichael Centre, home to 45 charitable organisations on North Brunswick Street, is set to close due to the lack of Government funding. Last week, letters were issued by the Board of Directors to all resident groups and the Centre’s staff was issued with redundancy notices.

The services provided by Carmichael Centre to resident groups and 350 other organisations across the sector include:

· Nationwide management training programme for the community and voluntary sector

· Support to organisations in such areas as legal responsibilities, governance, recruitment and employment, fundraising, policy development and accountability and compliance

· General clerical and administrative services

· Expert representation on policy, regulation and legislation

· Payroll and accounting services

· IT Support and consultancy

Kate O’Sullivan, CEO of Carmichael Centre, said today, “We are in crisis financially as we have not benefited from Government grants as expected. A commitment from a major US philanthropic foundation came to an end in September 2003, and for the past 9 months we have been in consultation with both the Departments of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs (CRAGA) and Health & Children. We have sought multi-annual core funding of Є150,000 from each of these two departments in order to survive. Up to the end of last week nothing was forthcoming. We are technically insolvent and, in order to fulfil our legal obligations, have had to issue closure notices.”

Annemarie Hogan, Chairperson of the Board of the Directors, states “At the end of last year, we received an emergency grant of Є75,000 from CRAGA to keep the Centre going until a more permanent funding arrangement could be put in place. In the past weeks we have had a positive indication from the Department of CRAGA that some support would be possible and in recent days we have had a strong indication from the Department of Health and Children that they would provide Є150,000 in multi-annual core funding. We need confirmation that this funding will be made available as a matter of urgency.”

Carmichael Centre, as Ireland’s first, largest and busiest centre for voluntary groups, is fully entitled to the support of Government. We are aware of some comments from Minister Noel Ahern in the past 24 hours, which are extremely disappointing. We have endeavoured to communicate with his Department for almost a year – in search of core funding, which is what we need to survive. We appreciate all CRAGA has done in the past. However, they have not addressed the core funding issue, which is central to our present crisis. Either the Government wants the Carmichael Centre to survive or they do not, and if they do they must assist us as a matter of urgency.

The Centre raises significant funding independently, by charging our service users at appropriate subsidised rates and through fundraising. “We are asking the Government to bridge the gap with a contribution to our core funding needs”, said Ms. Hogan. “We do not want to make 45 charitable organisations homeless and leave their client groups without services, nor do we want to make our staff redundant.”

With Government regulation of charities imminent, Ireland’s only support service to small charities will be extinct if this Centre closes its doors on July 9th.

Even at this late stage the Government must intervene.

ENDS

Further information

Kate O’Sullivan, CEO

author by whoneedstoknow?publication date Sun Jun 20, 2004 19:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here's another statement from earlier in the week which gives further information about the situation and why they want a bit more money:

Many of you will have seen TV3 news last night in relation to the funding crisis at Carmichael Centre. The Minister of State Noel Ahern said “We have given them a free building, We have given them 2 dozen staff on Community Employment, We are giving them various forms of small grants. They can’t keep on increasing the size of their bureaucracy”.

The actual facts are as follows: -
Carmichael Centre has raised €600,000 from donations and fundraising events to refurbish Carmichael House over the past 3 years – is this what is called a free building?

Carmichael Centre has managed Community Employment schemes for FAS since 1988. While a great help to both small organisations and to the long-term unemployed people who participate, Community Employment cannot provide the expertise to manage the Centre and deliver technical services – CE grants are NOT core funding

The Department is not giving “various forms of small grants” – one grant to partially fund one person in the training and support service is in place.

Carmichael Centre does not have a bureaucracy. In fact Carmichael Centre closed 2 positions last year.
There are now 9 staff employed to manage the Centre and provide services to 400 Organisations:
- One to provide the IT support service
- One to run the nationwide training programme
- One to provide technical support to groups
- One to do the book-keeping and financial reporting
- One to carry out all the Centre’s administration
- One Fundraiser
- One Premises Supervisor
- One Ass. CEO to oversee the facilities and services of two premises, which are open 14 hrs a day 6 days a week.
- One Chief Executive Officer

Each staff member is doing the job of at least two people.
If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact: Kate O'Sullivan, CEO, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7, Tel: 01 - 873 5702, Fax: 873 5737.

author by Frances O Sheapublication date Wed Jun 23, 2004 10:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was just wondering how it costs 900,000 to run the Carmichael centre for 1 year. Do the organisations there not pay rent? I do think that a budget of 900,000 to run a centre with 8 staff is a bit excessive and wonder if the Carmichael management etc... are in any way accountable for the overspend in their budget. I think it's a bit rich to be holding the government over a barrel and they should have cut their cloth according to their measure as every other community group must do. If they get an extra 150000 from DCRGA, well then some other small community group will get it taken from their budget along the way as there must be cutbacks somewhere to give them their extra money. Are they really thinking about other community groups that might suffer because of their mismanagement

author by Conall Mac Riocairdpublication date Thu Jun 24, 2004 13:00author email conall1 at mac dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Carmichael Centre staff are the last people in the world one could describe as bureaucrats. They are extremely hard working dedicated staff members who are working for very modest wages under the extremely difficult circumstances of having their jobs threatened by Government ineptidude.
Having worked last year with a member group in Carmichael House I found the staff at all times helpful, courteous and - it seemed to me - highly efficient. Hundreds of people who use the Centre will share that view. Please do not target these very fine staff members to defend a miserable ill-judged and simply bad decision by Ministers O'Cuiv and Ahern.
How much will it cost the Department to subsidise each of the 45 tenant charities in finding offices in the commercial sector?
The Carmichael Centre is not just about accommodating tenant groups and collecting the rent. It provides a very extensive and expert range of services tailored to the voluntary sector. These services are of critical importance to the smaller voluntary bodies who do not have IT or HR departments or Communications Directors or other specialist staff. Carmichael Centre charites are generally run by one staff person - or less - along with volunteers.
Instead of denigrating the Centre and demoralising its staff, Ministers Ahern and O'Cuiv and the Government should be supporting and celebrating this wonderful example of a contemporary, relevant Meitheal.
The Carmichael Centre must not be allowed to close. Our Government is spending millions hosting US President Bush this weekend. It can well afford to fund the essential work of the Carmichael Centre and prevent 45 charities being made homeless.

author by whoneedstoknow?publication date Fri Jun 25, 2004 16:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I thought I'd give an update

"A charity centre which was due to close in two weeks has been rescued by a €200,000 emergency grant.
...

(I'm not sure how much of the article can be put up but it can be seen at:

Related Link: http://212.2.162.45/news/story.asp?j=108745180&p=yx8745886&n=108745940
author by Kate O’Sullivan - Carmichael Centrepublication date Fri Jun 25, 2004 18:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups, home to 45 charitable organizations and service deliverer to 350 other community and voluntary organizations, is in desperate need of multi-annual core funding.

Yesterday the Northern Area Health Board confirmed that it will provide emergency once-off funding totalling €200,000 to relieve the current crisis situation. This will be followed, stated the Northern Area Health Board, by a joint review of the Centre’s activities by the Departments of Health & Children and Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the Health Boards. This money needs to be paid immediately.

While the core funding requirement for Carmichael Centre is €300,000 per year, this sum from the Department of Health & Children will enable the Centre to survive until December 2004.

Therefore, the Board of Directors of Carmichael Centre last night took the decision to withdraw all staff redundancy notices and to keep the Centre operational for all users of its services.

However, the problem of multi-annual core-funding for Carmichael Centre has not been resolved. This is the second time in six months that Government has decided to provide emergency funding – we trust that this time the Government’s commitment to engage in a meaningful way will be realized.

As Tanaiste Mary Harney TD said in the Dail yesterday, Carmichael Centre supports “extraordinarily valuable work for very vulnerable marginalized citizens”.

We welcome the promised joint review of our operations, and we look forward to demonstrating the significant contribution being made by Carmichael Centre at minimum cost levels. We also expect that, as a result of this review, the Centre will receive multi-annual core funding from Government so that our ongoing funding crises can cease.

It is vital that this review is undertaken immediately in order to secure the Centre’s future. We are fully confident that the review will show the work of Carmichael Centre to be essential, value for money, cost-efficient, prudently managed and a major contributor to the social fabric of Irish society.

ENDS
June 24th 2004

Further information

Kate O’Sullivan, CEO, Carmichael Centre

author by pcpublication date Fri Jun 25, 2004 18:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

fair play what next

author by Frances O Sheapublication date Tue Jun 29, 2004 11:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think what's next is that the Carmichael Centre learn to balance their budget like every other community group must do!! Also they shouldn't get into histrionics and threaten the small organisations based there with closure. That was totally uneccessary and was a form of emotional blackmail!!! Kate O Sullivan and crew should know better. Listened to the Gerry Ryan show and thought Noel Ahern had a very valid point about cutting cloth according to measure.

author by Amusedpublication date Tue Jun 29, 2004 11:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'Listened to the Gerry Ryan show and thought Noel Ahern had a very valid point about cutting cloth according to measure.'

Let me see now, what party would the forementioned Noel Ahern belong to?
CJH, Charvet shirts, the Drumcondra mafia - anyone?

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