THE founder of the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation, Jonathan Irwin, was in Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa in Clonakilty, West Cork to host an afternoon tea party for 100 guests, including local Jack & Jill liaison nurse Eilin Ni Mhurchu for a fundraiser marking the charity’s 20th anniversary year.
The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation has supported 2,300 sick children nationwide with home nursing care, including 255 children in Cork and 62 children in Kerry. The charity is calling on people to host an Afternoon Tea party at home to raise money for Jack & Jill or to attend one of 11 Afternoon Tea parties in top hotels nationwide including Mount Juliet in Kilkenny on 24th March and Hayfield Manor in Cork City on 27th April, with details on www.jackandjill.ie.
According to Jonathan Irwin, “The essence of Jack & Jill is about community helping community; neighbour helping neighbour. I know, because my family has walked this pathway. Little did we think when Jack Irwin came into our life on 29th February 1996 that his legacy would touch so many others.
“Our little boy, who couldn’t walk or talk, has been the biggest influencer in my life and he has driven his old Dad to give a voice to children who don’t have one, and to provide a practical life line of support to parents who need it.
“Twenty years on and Jack Irwin’s home care plan is the blueprint for Jack & Jill’s nationwide service, operating 365 days a year, with no means testing and no waiting list. Of that I am very proud.
“I’m less proud however of a health service that is not kind to carers, that doesn’t recognise and value the work these carers do, day in day out. It is time to roll out the red carpet, instead of so much red tape for carers. We must look after our carers.
“I would also like to remind this government and the health system that it is not too late to do the right thing and to switch the location of the National Children’s Hospital from St. James’ campus to Connolly in Blanchardstown. We need more listening, more courage and more common sense in health economics.
“We didn’t think they’d listen to us on medical cards, but they eventually did and, credit where credit is due, the announcement this week from the Minister for Health, Simon Harris that children in receipt of the domiciliary care allowance (DCA) will get their medical card automatically is a big achievement.
“Today, I want to salute our nurses and carers in every community in Ireland, wonderful, strong, humble and highly experienced and qualified nurses like Eilin Ni Mhurchu who are real champions for our children.
“To fund this critical service, we still have a big hill to climb every year to raise the €3.5 million we need to keep Jack & Jill going, but somehow we’ve managed to get there every year with a little help from our friends. Ordinary people who have raised over €35 million for Jack & Jill over the years. Thank you. It has been an honour to walk this pathway with you.”
The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation provides direct funding and vital home nursing support to families of children with brain damage up to the age of 4 who suffer severe intellectual and physical developmental delay, enabling them to purchase home respite care. It also provides end of life care to all children who require it up to the age of four years.
These are children who, as a result of their condition, are tube fed, oxygen dependent, take seizures, are on heavy medication and require intensive home nursing care, but children, who underneath all of this disability, do better at home, where their families want them to be for whatever time they have.
The Jack & Jill Foundation gives these families ‘the gift of time’ that is time to do the things that others so often take for granted like shopping, taking their other children to the park, or simply a full night’s sleep. Each year, Jack & Jill must raise €3.5 million to provide its unique service and with less than 20% from the Government the charity relies on the generosity of the public and fundraisers like Afternoon Tea to keep going.