L’Arche Dublin is a community where celebrations are very common. With 6 Core Members (Residents), L’Arche Dublin has a great atmosphere where everyone finds a good excuse to celebrate the simple joy of being together.
“We have a vibrant group in Dublin. Together our core members, staff and international assistants strive to provide a warm and welcoming home for all who live here. Our lives are full. We do the usual things like most people - shopping, cleaning, making friends and of course, having parties”, Peter Shiels, Community Leader says.
L’Arche (French for "The Ark") is an international network of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live, work and grow together. There are 149 L’Arche communities around the world, 4 of which are in Ireland/Northern Ireland. However, the one in Dublin stands out, among many other reasons, because it is the only community in the country where all the core members are wheelchair users. That brings a series of challenges within, including the constant need of big vehicle to move around.
“Vans are essential for us. We rely on them daily for everything we do, from medical needs, to social outlets and shopping trips; everything that other people take for granted. Comfortably you can fit two, maximum three core members in the back of a van, so we do need two of them”, Peter explains.
A few months back, the community realised that one of their two vans was not working as well as before: “It was old and rusty and started to become a bit of an issue. It wasn’t worth fixing it, so we knew it was time to get a new one”, Peter says.
So the community called out to their friends and luckily the call was answered. Thanks to the kind donation of the local Portmarnock Golf Club and the Lottery Fund, the community has been able to afford a new van. “The core members chose the colour luminous yellow and called it the Yellow Submarine”, Peter comments.
Tools of inclusion
This new van is much more than a car for L’Arche. It is the chance to change perceptions around disabilities. “People who have an intellectual disability are disadvantaged, not just by their disability, but by how they are viewed and supported by society. Perhaps some consider them a burden, when the reality is completely different. They have a very special gift: they can open our hearts and bring out the best in each one of us. It is the perception, not the reality of their existence, what isolates them from what is most important to their quality of life—friends and relationships”, Peter affirms.
Within this context, the gift from Portmarnock Golf Club becomes even more important, since they have given L’Arche a valuable tool of inclusion. “We couldn’t be more thankful. It’s another reason to celebrate”, Peter concludes.