Crosscare – Our History

Crosscare was founded in 1941. That year, a wide range of social service initiatives of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin were brought together under the name “Catholic Social Service Conference” (CSSC).

This was initially an emergency coalition to address the particular poverty which was affecting wartime Dublin.  “The Emergency”, as people called it, was a harsh time marked by widespread hunger and a lack of basic health care provisions, especially for children and women.   CSSC was a forward-looking initiative which was community rooted.  Among the first services put in place in war time conditions in inner city Dublin were food centres serving “Penny Dinners”. Maternity centres were added, next to the food centres, with special meals for mothers and babies.

In the 1950’s, emigration from Ireland continued to rise with thousands of Irish people seeking work abroad as unemployment rates increased at home.  In new housing estates, where Dublin Corporation accommodated families from the city, Crosscare responded to demand by opening food centres in the suburbs.  In the 1960’s as homelessness became a growing need, Crosscare opened a new hostel in Eccles Street for boys of 16-18 years, providing not just accommodation, but support and training to enable them find employment.

During the 1970’s, Crosscare became more innovative, expanding the range of services provided in its centres, paying greater attention to the varied needs of its clients. There was a growing emphasis, already noted in the Eccles Street residential centre, on empowerment through training and counselling, to enable people to become self-sufficient. Links were made with the then State training agency, Manpower, to provide certification to those who completed a course and funding while they attended.

The 1980’s   was a decade of significant growth in Crosscare as it continued to expand towards the multi-service agency that is Crosscare today.

Crosscare became involved the design and provision of services and in influencing and contributing to policy, for example through pre-budget submissions, giving a voice to those who would be hardest hit by cutbacks.  Centrecare was established in 1980 to provide housing and welfare information in the city centre to people experiencing poverty or homelessness.   Emigrant Advice, next door to Centrecare, was by this time helping not only people leaving Ireland, but also returning Irish emigrants trying to re-settle at home.

On behalf of the Travelling Community, Crosscare worked with City and County Councils to win support for serviced sites and improve Traveller accommodation.  The DAP (Drug Awareness Programme) was set up in 1984 in response to the growing problem of heroin use and addiction. Drug awareness courses were held for parents in parishes and a youth-to-youth project put in place.

Community Development Programmes were set up in Dublin parishes with a focus on personal development, health care, parenting, budgeting, home management, spirituality, literacy and adult education, promoting community spirit and self-reliance.  Care of the Elderly programmes with Good Neighbour schemes were available in 13 parishes.

In 1987, an AIDS task-force was established to raise awareness, distribute accurate information and to promote compassionate responses by communities to those affected by AIDS and their families.

Ireland’s first Food Bank was set up in the 1980’s, gathering un-sold surplus food and household products for re-distribution through charities. By the end of this decade, Crosscare was innovative and engaged in promoting developmental responses to poverty and marginalisation in the greater Dublin area.

In the 1990s, Emigrant Advice and Centrecare were fully integrated into Crosscare, along with Teen Counselling, within a single organisational structure with much greater emphasis on sharing resources. Administration and financial support services were centralised, while frontline services to local communities were expanded and strengthened, all the time retaining the emphasis on empowering communities and enabling them to have an effective influence in their own destinies. Pre-budget submissions were prepared by local communities and submitted through Crosscare. Teen Counselling, formerly situated in the then Mater Dei teacher training college, expanded into five suburbs, providing free counselling for teenagers and their famlies.

In the 2000’s, for the first time in its history lay people were appointed to the positions of Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of Crosscare.  One of the biggest changes in Crosscare took place in 2013 following a full merger with Catholic Youth Care (CYC).

CYC has its own rich history of providing services and support for young people.   First known as the Catholic Youth Council, it was established in 1944 by the Archdiocese of Dublin as a subcommittee of the Catholic Social Services Council.  At that time, separate boys’ and girls’ clubs were set up running with indoor and outdoor games, woodwork, boxing classes, and homemaking classes and dancing. Young people were helped and encouraged in school work and given support towards a job or scholarship. CYC also administered the city playgrounds on behalf of Dublin City Council.

In the 1960s, CYC developed new clubs in developing suburbs. Links were established with the Dublin Institute of Adult Education to improve volunteer training and club programme formation.

In 1969, the Department of Education allocated a budget for youth and sport, the first such official support, leading to a Youth Affairs Section in the Department. At the same time, CYC moved from offices in Westland Row and relocated to Arran Quay. Summer projects were introduced in 1973 with activities, sport and outings during the holidays. It began in the Liberties and like all good ideas, spread rapidly.

Following the enthusiasm of young people for the Papal visit of John Paul II in 1979, CYC was involved in bringing young people to World Youth Day which was first held in Rome in 1984 and established as a triennial event.  In the following years, hundreds of young people travelled to World Youth Days all over the globe with CYC.

In the 1990’s, local Drug Task Forces were set up in defined areas of disadvantage, providing funds for CYC to engage in preventive youth work in partnership with schools, health boards and other voluntary groups.

In 2014, with the two organisations now merged, staff and volunteers came together and building on our ‘Faith in Action’ 2008-2018 vision document Crosscare put in place its ‘Faith to Action’ 2014-2019 strategy, ensuring it remains a strong advocate for those most in need in our society at every level of the organisation.

Crosscare has expanded and evolved over 80 years always striving to identify and support people most in need in our communities. The ability to adjust to changing circumstances and emerging needs is a key of characteristic of Crosscare since its foundation.

As economic and social pressures change and impact on different groups of people, Crosscare continues to adapt to ensure that those who find themselves on the margins of our society at any given time are helped and supported.

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