However, Jonathan Irwin, the chief executive of the Jack & Jill Foundation, said yesterday that the charity had been able to make up the loss on the mobile phone revenue by increasing contributions received from the corporate sector.
The revenues from second-hand mobiles were vital to the foundation, and Mr Irwin said that in a good year, the charity would raise more from the phones than it would receive from the HSE.
Mr Irwin said that the charity is on course to generate €3.5 million this year to allow its foundation continue to provide care to 274 children with neurological illness.
The foundation provides early intervention home respite care to families of children with severe development delay who require extended care.
Mr Irwin said that usually, the charity raises €600,000 a year from the 400,000 or so second-hand mobiles handed in by the public.
However, Mr Irwin said that the price fetched by the phones dropped from €10 to €4.50 earlier this year, resulting in a major dent in the foundation’s revenues.
“The phones are brought to the Chinese city of Shenzhen to be sold,” he said.
Mr Irwin said dealers come from all over the world to Shenzhen to buy the phones.
“The mobile phone you have today might be used by a taxi driver in Ecuador after being sold through the Shenzhen market.”
Mr Irwin established the charity after finding that there were no services for his son, Jack, who was born in February 1996 but died 22 months later after succumbing to illness brought about by suffering major neurological difficulties that required around the clock care at home.
Since its foundation, the charity has raised €42m and today has a team of 11 paediatric nurses that provide care to 274 children under the age of four.
Mr Irwin said: “The HSE takes on the kids after the age of four, but it doesn’t work out that way in practice and last year, we, for a time, were caring for 80 children over four and this cost us an additional €250,000.”
Mr Irwin said that people in Ireland were never more than 15km from a Jack & Jill baby: “We have never turned away a baby and we never will. We are helping the most fragile children.”
He said that a Trinity College Dublin study has found that care provided by Jack & Jill is nine times cheaper than hospital care. He said: “We have offered to take children up to the age of six.”
He added: “Ryanair is our single largest corporate donor. The company is very humble and quiet about it, but the monies are very appreciated by the families.”
Mr Irwin said: “I never lose sleep on where the money will be coming from to allow the foundation operate. The support has been fantastic from the public.”