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New Housing Manager appointed for Kerry Mental Health Association

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Kerry Mental Health Association (KMHA) has appointed a new Housing/Property Manager who will coordinate all aspects its housing programme, including tenancies, maintenance, and fire safety.

As well as being a registered charity, KMHA is an Approved Housing Body with nine residences in Killarney, Tralee, Listowel, Cahersiveen, Rathmore and Killorglin, providing 55 housing units for people living with mental ill-health.

Siobhán Walsh has 21 years’ experience in senior administrative management in community and voluntary services which will be hugely beneficial to her work as Housing/Property Manager with Kerry Mental Health Association.

“First and foremost in my work ethos is the person," Siobhán, a Listowel-native residing in Ballybunion, said.

"My holistic approach sees their tenancy as person-centred with a right to independent choice and a voice to navigate their path into housing effectively, resulting in securing a place their own home. Security of a roof over your head provides a great space for good mental health and aids recovery. I am delighted to have joined Kerry Mental Health Association. In my role as Housing Manager, I will operate an open-door policy. I’m here to chat, to help, to liaise, and to make the tenancy pathway a vibrant, sustainable and enjoyable one.”

Siobhán Walsh’s appointment followed the retirement last year of Dan O’Connor who had been with KMHA for over two decades, firstly as Development Manager and then as Housing Manager.

The Chairman of Kerry Mental Health Association, Pat O’Brien, said “the growth of our nine branches coincided with the employment of Dan O’Connor".

"He has spearheaded the purchase of houses, while in many areas our branch volunteers maintain contact with residents offering a range of befriending services. On behalf of my colleagues on the Board, I wish Dan a long and healthy retirement and thank him for more than 20 years of dedication to the organisation. Looking forward, we extend a warm welcome to Siobhán Walsh who has already shown a commitment to ensuring a quality living experience for our tenants.”

Kerry Mental Health Association is inviting people to join any of the nine branches where the volunteers pursue befriending and support activities to enrich the lives of neighbours and friends who are living with mental health challenges, including mental illness.

For more information about Kerry Mental Health Association or to get involved as a volunteer, please visit www.kerrymentalhealth.ie or email volunteers@kerrymentalhealth.ie.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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