Mission Statement: To provide a helping hand to those in need within our community.
Core Ireland was set up in 2015 by our Chairman, Bernard Kenny. Below is the story of how Core came about and how it evolved over the years.
“Hi, my name is Bernard Kenny. I’m the founder and chairman of Core Ireland and I look forward to telling you about our organisation! Since starting Core in 2015, I’ve been asked regular questions about Core and what we do, so here are those questions and their answers!”
What is Core Ireland?
Core Ireland is a place for people to come and volunteer, to experience the ‘Joy of Giving’ and to do something worthwhile for the community in the community. It is a place to find friendship and fellowship amongst the members of Core and for people on the receiving end to feel less isolated or alone.
Core also helps to make the more vulnerable members of our community feel cared for and assured that they too are valued members of our community.
Core is for people to come to and find, within themselves, new strengths and abilities. We want them to find a sense of fulfillment, purpose, enjoyment, and to have fun and be creative. Each person who comes to Core changes Core by bringing their own unique personality and ideas. They help change and develop it. The strength and power of Core is in its members and volunteers.
It’s about service. One person helping another and in return, they’re helping themselves. I believe that the best way to help yourself is to help somebody else.
Why did you want to set up Core Ireland?
In my own experience of giving my services on a voluntary basis, I discovered I was always at my best when I was doing something for somebody else. After gaining a more formal education in the social sciences I felt I would further that by creating a place where people could come to experience the benefits of volunteering or giving their services for free.
How did Core Ireland come about?
Core came about from a report that was done on anti-social behaviour in Navan. The issues were huge, so I volunteered to look into a project that could help combat these issues.
I went and spoke to other organisations around the country, particularly one in Roscrea Co. Tipperary who had experienced similar problems. We had a couple of meetings where I took a couple of pointers from them. From this, I began looking for volunteers with similar ideas to my own. I got one or two to start, so we did litter cleanups, helped people fix up houses, repair small things in homes, and do small projects in the local community.
Following on from this interaction with people we realised that food poverty was an issue within our community and decided to try to do something to help. We started collecting food from local supermarkets at the end of the day to pass on to people who were struggling or finding it hard to make ends meet. We would get bread, fruit, and ‘end of shelf life’ foods and pass them on. The food would always be safe and in good condition, but because of specific policies, stores would not be able to sell them the next day.
This also tied in with a huge environmental issue as it stopped tonnes of food being passed into landfills at the end of every day. We could do our part to help the community and also the environment.
Through these projects, we realised this project (by then called the Nourish Project) could be used to help create awareness about families in our community who are struggling, in particular children. We then began to approach schools. We asked each child to bring in just one food item on a specific day each month. This was creating awareness among children. We then expanded to both national and secondary schools. And now even local groups and businesses are getting involved, it’s amazing!
We informed the public about our work by taking a page in a local free newspaper, which we paid for by delivering 2,000 copies ourselves into people’s homes in Navan. It was hard work but it was the seed from which our Core newsletter was born.
What is your own background?
I started volunteering at 24 after a friend asked me to go to the homeless shelter she was involved in for one night a week. I then went on to helping out more frequently by moving their client’s belongings to accommodation and afterward, following up and checking in on them. One thing led to another and it became a huge part of my life.
I was a scout leader in previous years before that and I was in the ‘Army Reserve’ too. I was always a team player and a leader.
I had an injury and that put me out of business. I was self-employed at the time, so I had to take time out. At this time I decided to go to University where I studied social sciences. At this stage, I had hoped to go into social work, to put my previous experiences and skills to greater use.
After that, I was asked then by the HSE to participate in a year-long project in another university and to work on a project with two other people from Navan. The objective was to identify and work on a project that would improve the mental health services in the Louth-Meath area. We carried on with two projects from that, one was a trialogue which is an open forum discussion in mental health held on a monthly basis. The other was to produce a booklet for the Louth-Meath Mental Health services which would be given to all new service users. The booklet showed people how to navigate their way through the mental health service. This was issued to all new service users on their first appointment. I still hold a voluntary position on the HSE committee on Mental health services
I am currently a member of 8 different organizations as part of their board of members or their committees. A lot of the contacts I have for Core Ireland were made through these committees.
Are there any achievements made by Core that you’re particularly Proud of?
I am proud of Core as a whole, I always wanted to expand it but it really has come a long way!
The Nourish Project will always be a source of pride for me. It started off as a basic idea but we were then at one stage delivering up to 40 hampers a week! The donations we receive are always valued and the people who receive them are always grateful!
I’m equally proud of the work we’re doing with the National Learning Network (NLN). This group does brilliant work and Core work with them to provide work experience for some of their members. The volunteers we have gained from our association with (NLN) have been invaluable and I don’t know where we would be without them!
To wrap up, I’d like to invite you to contact us with any further questions! We’ll be happy to get back to you as soon as we can!