A RESPECTED charity for disabled children is trying to "outwit the recession" by introducing new donation schemes and appealing to the HSE for more funds.
Jack and Jill Children's Foundation, which provides support and care for 322 sick children and their families every year, has been severely hit by the financial crisis, and is now having to "dream up new ideas" to find the funds it so requires.
CEO and founder of the charity, Jonathan Irwin told the Herald that donations were down by 26pc when the charity was spending 40pc more on the families it helps.
The foundation spends more than half a million euro yearly on 80 Dublin children alone, another €190,000 for Cork, and €130,000 for Wexford. "Our services cost about €16,000 per year for each baby and we need to raise at least €3m every year to provide all the support that disabled children need," Mr Irwin explained.
While this sum may sound significant, he explained that that it was nothing compared to the cost of hospital care -- €150,000 per year per child.
"It's so much less expensive to provide families with help at home, it is a better solution for babies and parents are much happier too"
"The reality of it is that we have 81 children that should have graduated because they are over four but I cannot just leave a family in the wilderness and that's what I'll be trying to explain to Minister of State, John Moloney at the end of this month."
Mr Irwin will be meeting members of the joint committee on health and children in the Oireachtas this afternoon to discuss the possibility of receiving more help from the State.
"At the moment we provide support for children aged up to four years old but we would like to extend it to six," Mr Irwin told the Herald.
"If we are given the right to look after them until then, we would need about €2m but it could save €15m, as about 100 of our babies would have to return to intensive care wards if they were no longer cared for by us.
The charity has helped over 1,200 families since it was established 13 years ago, and it is constantly looking out for new ideas to raise funds.
In October, we'll be launching our crutches recycling scheme," Mr Irwin said. "We've been working on that for the last five months with the HSE.
"We'll collect crutches, chop them up, melt them down in a factory until they're back to being aluminium. Crutches are never given back to the HSE so they should be tens of thousands not being used out there."
Mr Irwin said he wanted to ensure that parents can get all the practical help they need, and one such couple are grateful for his efforts.
Robin and Natasha Kiely's daughter, Lolah (1), was born with severe breathing difficulties and has required a 24-hour oxygen supply to help her breathe normally, along with a ventilator every night.
Since last Christmas, she has been monitored at home by nurses from the charity and, more recently, by a team of physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, and occupational therapists.
"She's making massive progress," said her mum. We did not have to apply to Jack and Jill for support -- they approached us and it allowed us to get a couple of nights' sleep every week, which has been critical."