Homemaking heroes

Homemaking heroes

June 19, 2016 Blog 0 Comments
I met a lot of inspiring and influential people this week as I ping-ponged over the Straits of Moyle and across the Irish Sea to meet the Finance Ministers of Scotland and Wales, returning to Belfast on Bloomsday to host the first-ever celebration of Ulysses and its author James Joyce in Stormont.
But the most courageous people I met this week were the residents of Peter’s Hill apartments at the foot of the Shankill Road.
Inspire, an independent care agency, provides support to the residents, most of whom have a learning disability, in order to maximise their independence.
Paul and Lorraine did me the honour of inviting me into their homes and posed for photographs. Paul was proud as punch of his framed photo of the Liverpool team, Lorraine read a poem in tribute to Peter’s Hill. Both are remarkable battlers, having moved to Peter’s Hill from Muckamore Abbey Hospital where they had been in residential care for three decades and more. They told me that they enjoyed being so close to the city centre and relished the opportunity to shop on the Shankill road or go to the pictures at the CitySide cinema. They were tremendously proud of the fact that they do their own tidying up, cooking and cleaning as they showed off their cosy homes.
Joined by Peter McBride of NIAMH and Seamus McAleavey of NICVA in Paul’s home.
Joined by Peter McBride of NIAMH and Seamus McAleavey of NICVA in Paul’s home.

In a busy week which included two four-hour debates on finances, meeting Paul and Lorraine was the perfect way to see out the Friday because it reinforced for me the tremendous, life-transforming work being carried out by charities like Inspire and its parent body the NI Association of Mental Health (itself a part of the NI Council for Voluntary Action who had invited me to Peter’s Hill to meet their directors).

Afterwards, on my way to address 400 members of the KPMG management team from across Ireland — undoubtedly our brightest and best when it comes to business — I wondered if I should ask them what was their greatest achievement.
For this is clear: none of us, neither I nor the thrusting, talented KPMG leadership team, could say our achievements surpass the everyday housekeeping and home-making heroism of Lorraine and Paul.
Similarly, the achievements of the Inspire staff who made the move from a lifetime in residential care to independent living possible for Paul and Lorraine fill me with awe.
And respect.
And a resolve to ensure our charities are valued and appreciated every time it comes to setting our priorities through our budgets.
For an update on other goings-on this week, including those trips to meet our Celtic cousins, you can visit the Finance Department blog.

About the Author

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is the outgoing Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast and a civic activist in Belfast.