Working life: Auveen Bell, co-founder of Blossom Ireland

7.30am
I have three kids, so the pressure is on to get everyone out on time. 

Aisling, 15, makes her own way to school. I drop off Niamh, nine, on my way to work after the minder arrives. 

She waits with Rory, 13, until he is collected by the bus that takes him to his special ed school. Rory is moderately intellectually disabled.

9am

We have a team management meeting to set priorities for the week. Since Blossom Ireland was set up in 2010, we’ve expanded from holiday camps to weekly yoga classes and Blossom Buddy meet-ups for teenagers aged 14+. 

Blossom Buddies are kids with special needs who mightn’t have the opportunity to hang out the way other teens do.

Our buddy programme enables them to develop friendships and other independent life skills.

12 noon

We’re looking at expanding our summer camps so I have research to do to see what additional venues might work. The summer camps came about from my own experience with Rory. 

When it came to the holidays, the camp choices were limited for anyone with special needs and he often required a chaperone. 

There was an obvious gap and out of it was born Blossom Ireland, summer camps designed by occupational therapists for kids with special needs.

1pm

I meet friends at the local coffee shop in Raheny.

2pm

We had the recent good fortune to be awarded €30,000 funding under the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Elevator Programme which offers support to social entrepreneurs in the earliest stages of their project. 

They’ll be working with us over the next year to help develop a blueprint for expanding the camps, so I have work to do this afternoon in relation to that. The camps are limited to 18 children per week, aged eight to 18. We’ve an almost 100% return rate.

4pm

I have a fundraising event to attend. We charge just €80 per child for a week-long camp but the actual cost is about €500, so there’s a lot of fundraising. 

I also have some work to do on a research project Trinity College is undertaking to measure the social impact the camps are having. Hopefully the findings will help attract more social capitalists.

5pm

I head home. The kids keep me busy. I enjoy pilates, walking, and cycling.

* Auveen Bell is co-founder of Blossom Ireland, which provides therapy-led after-school and holiday camps for children with intellectual disabilities


Lifestyle

AS Joaquin Phoenix rose to the podium to collect his Academy Award for Best Actor, ears were peeled as the actor made his speech about inequality and our disconnect with the natural world.Paul McLauchlan: Leading men lead the way on Oscars red carpet

The new season blood oranges have arrived, they’ve been trickling into the shops ever since Christmas — such joy. I long for their delightful fresh taste after the rich food of the festive season.Darina Allen: Blood Oranges have a delightfully fresh taste after the rich food of winter

She’s the Cork singer dubbed the next Kate Bush, shortlisted by Universal, the world’s biggest record label, as their artist to watch in 2020. This will be the year of Lyra, writes Ed PowerLyra: Meet the new Kate Bush - and she's from Cork

For relationships to endure, we need to be loving not just on Valentine’s Day but all year round, a Buddhist teacher tells Marjorie BrennanOpen hearts: The Buddhist approach to love and loving

More From The Irish Examiner