Cosgrove Care -celebrating 60 years at the heart of our community

Cosgrove Care celebrates its 60th anniversary in November 2020. The organisation, based at the Walton Community Care Centre in Giffnock, had planned a year of events to celebrate this important anniversary. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen Cosgrove Care take a very different approach to marking this anniversary as it has focused its energy on supporting people in the community with essential care and support through one of the most challenging periods in its history.

Cosgrove was founded in 1960 by Carrie Hill, a forward-thinking parent who recognised the lack of support and services for children with learning disabilities and their families in the Jewish Community.

Carrie discussed her concerns with Rev Dr I K Cosgrove, Minister of Garnethill Synagogue, and wrote a piece in the Jewish Echo asking for other parents who shared her concerns to come forward. Carrie highlighted the inequalities that existed for children and young people with learning disabilities in the community and sought to bring like-minded parents together to act. Carrie recognised the additional problem for Jewish children at that time. At home they could enjoy Shabbat, Yomim Tovim, and family birthdays but what would happen once their parents were no longer able to look after them? She also recognized the inequality and the lack of rights for children with disabilities to high quality education and skills development and was determined to pioneer a new approach.

The article generated a significant response from parents who saw the need to create a new model and approach to providing support, training and accommodation for people with learning disabilities, and a charitable trust, The Jewish Association for the Mentally Handicapped, now a charitable company named Cosgrove Care, was set up and a residential home was established in St John’s Road in Pollokshields

The trustees were many of the great and good of the community, Ephraim and Michael Goldberg, Symie Miller, Isadore Walton, Dr Fred Stone. Rev Dr Cosgrove had a clear vision – that education and support would be provided by trained staff and would be fully equipped to provide the best support to help people thrive. This remains a focus for Cosgrove today, providing lifelong support to people in in their local community. The organisation has retained that pioneering spirit of our founders and continues to diversify and deliver an innovative range of support and services to the most vulnerable people in the Jewish and wider community. A group of younger supporters was formed to help, named Jewish Association for Mentally Handicapped Auxiliary Committee. some of whom later became trustees for many years.

Cosgrove in the Present

There have been many changes in social care and in Cosgrove, over the past six decades. However, Cosgrove continues to keep family values and a commitment to supporting the most vulnerable members of the community at the heart of everything it does. In developing a range of modern social care approaches to complement services commissioned by Health and Social Care Partnerships, Cosgrove offers a local, whole community approach to the planning and delivery of support, improving the lives of the most vulnerable in the community and engaging local people.

Today Cosgrove is a leading Scottish Charity working across West Central Scotland with children, adults and older adults who have a range of additional needs, helping them to lead full lives within their communities, and provide support where needed within local communities. Cosgrove provides support to the Jewish Community to the value of over £750,000 per annum, with many of the people supported having a lifelong relationship with the organisation. Cosgrove continues to play a pivotal role in the Jewish Community, responding to the changes and needs as the community changes.

Cosgrove has been at the forefront of developing and delivering innovative services that help children and adults with additional needs to build skills, confidence and independence to live life to the full in our communities, celebrating and continuing the legacy of Carrie Hill, Rev Dr Cosgrove and the founding trustees Cosgrove has been fortunate to have many supporters who have given their time, skills and heart to the organisation over many decades, especially our Honorary President, John Dover, who has been a driving force in modernising the organisation and with The Esterson Trust has secured over £300,000 of support for the charity. John has been involved with Cosgrove for over 30 years and continues today to chair the Finance and Investment Committee. John has been pivotal to the development and modernisation of Cosgrove Care, overseeing many transformational periods in the history of the organisation.

Heather Gray, Chief Executive of Cosgrove said ‘John Dover and the Dover family have played a significant role in the evolution of Cosgrove Care over many decades. John’s determination to drive improvements, to innovate, to secure the best future possible for the most vulnerable people in our community has been a central pillar of our success. It is fitting that we take time to thank John at this time for his incredible legacy and vision.’

Cosgrove Care has evolved into a highly professional and diverse organisational at the forefront of delivering modern social care. We have embraced technology enabled care, innovative person-led support and pioneered rights-based approaches which see people with learning disabilities thrive within our communities and take up their place as active citizens. We have much more to do but are determined, committed and driven to provider the very best care and support possible.’

Today, Cosgrove provides a wide range of innovative services on behalf of Health and Social Care Partnerships in west central Scotland including Adult & Child Services, Supported Living, Supported Employment and Care at Home services as well as funded services which enhance lives and support those with complex needs to build skills and thrive. It supports more than 300 people aged 3- 95, with over 220 staff and 300 volunteers. Importantly it continues to challenge inequality, promote equal citizenship for all and keep families supported and together. Proud of its Jewish heritage, Cosgrove continues to be a key provider of services to the Jewish Community and a driving force for people with learning disabilities to be active participants in their community and achieve their goals.

Cosgrove Care chairman Colin Black said: “The services and support that Cosgrove Care offers have never been more relevant. We are immensely proud of our heritage and achievements, but we recognise there is more to do and there are challenges ahead to continue to deliver these essential services at a time when national and local government are continually contracting funding and seeking innovative solutions for the future. Cosgrove Care is well equipped to deliver but we need support to sustain this vital work. We are very grateful for the support that we receive from the Jewish Community. Without that support, we would simply not be available to provide the high quality, lifelong care required by the most vulnerable and to continue the legacy of our founders.”

Rabbi Moshe Rubin said “My first encounter with Cosgrove Care was in 1990 when I took the Glasgow Yeshiva Boys Choir to perform at St. John Road Cosgrove Care Centre.  This was a time when men and women with special care needs were not fully understood and were not provided with any opportunities and in many other communities they were still hidden away from society. 
This was far from the truth that evening. That evening I met the most beautiful and happy men and woman, the Cosgrove Care family, who were singing, dancing, and laughing, making that evening a most memorable one.  I was also introduced to the pioneers at Cosgrove Care, those incredible people who with love and patience helped the men and woman of the Cosgrove Care family to integrate in to the community and made sure they were at the heart of the community. They also educated the community to welcome the Cosgrove Care family and consider them as equal and valued members of society. 30 years later Cosgrove Care continues to be pioneers, enabling all people to enjoy life and realise their potential.  I wish Cosgrove Care continued success in their holy work.”

Cosgrove Care has been fortunate to have had a succession of committed Chief Executives who have driven the leadership of the organisation forward. Linda Goldberg and Walter Hecht both brought about positive change.

"I look back on my time at Cosgrove with great fondness and pride. A care organisation that lived up to its name with staff who over the years delivered a personal, caring and creative service to the people it supported particularly when in recent times financial pressures made that such a problem. I wish the organisation all the best for the future as these pressures increase ".

Walter Hecht, Former CEO

I was more than fortunate to be CEO of Cosgrove at a moment in history when the whole direction of care for people with learning disabilities changed from purely caring to a recognition that they were capable of far more than had been realised, should live normal lives like other people and be included in the community. The majority of our people moved to a purpose-built block of flats in Arnside Avenue, where instead of 4 people sharing one bedroom and one bathroom, each person now had their own space. As it was in the heart of the Jewish community our people soon became well known to the local shopkeepers, to the shul, and of course to the opportunities provided by the excellent new community centre. Sadly, people with learning disabilities and autism continue to need support and I am sure that Cosgrove will be there for them in the next 60 years and beyond.

 

Linda Goldberg, Former CEO

The organisation has had significant support from many people and trusts within the community. Cosgrove appointed David and Carole Walton as patrons in 2018, recognising the ongoing support of the Walton Foundation.

The Present - Supporting the local community during the pandemic

Cosgrove’s plans to celebrate their significant anniversary this year quickly took a back seat as the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic unfolded. They acted quickly to put in place a response to help their communities and to continue to provide a lifeline of support to the communities where they work.

Cosgrove immediately established an emergency volunteer recruitment drive and community response for local people. Over 4,000 people were leafleted across Giffnock, Clarkston, Newton Mearns and Thornliebank and beyond and Cosgrove enlisted their assistance over online resources across East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Cosgrove established itself as the local distributor of food, hot meals and care packages to those looking for assistance either via Cosgrove or from Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire, and developed a strong working relationship with Morrison’s, Giffnock ensuring that weekly food parcels are made available to those requiring them.

For older people, this has been an especially difficult time as many of their family members can be self-isolating or unable to visit, meaning they are unable to meet their essential needs, such as grocery shopping and collecting medications. Cosgrove received requests from England, America and Canada, as well as locally to assist to shielding family members. The Cosgrove response brought together over 200 volunteers who have delivered over 3,500+ (to date) unique community support engagements.

“Cosgrove has been a literal lifesaver through the pandemic, and I can’t thank you enough. I would have really struggled without you, my neighbours don’t offer assistance and my family are miles away. Thank you!” – Gordon, Clarkston

“It has been really reassuring to know that even though my family are a fair bit away, Cosgrove has provided support from the local community and I am so grateful” – Emily, Newton Mearns

“So grateful for the service you provide while we are shielding, Cosgrove have been an invaluable support!” – Estelle, Giffnock

Lockdown and ongoing restrictions had a devastating impact on many of the vulnerable people Cosgrove supports, they have been unable to meet up with friends and attend regular clubs and activities to maintain their health and well-being. This is also an especially challenging time for people with conditions such as autism, who can find changes in routine and home confinement difficult.

Murray is one of the people that Cosgrove supports in Giffnock, and here he speaks about how his lockdown experience has been this year, and how Cosgrove have been able to make things a little easier…

How have the covid-19 restrictions on your daily life affected you?

At first, I found things very upsetting but as time went on, I managed to get myself back on track with help from Cosgrove and some of the volunteers. I tried not to let things upset me.

How has it changed things for you?

Unfortunately, we are all in a bad situation, and things are not going to get any better soon. I tried to carry on with normal life as far as possible, but I missed all the Cosgrove classes, I attend five classes each week. I also missed the company of all my friends.

How has Cosgrove helped you cope with the new situation?

Under the circumstances, Cosgrove has helped me a lot. They have given me a laptop which means I can now attend all the zoom classes. Cosgrove also helped by having Clare, Carol Ann and Susan bring me projects to work on at home. They also provided afternoon tea on one occasion! All in all, I am very grateful for the help I have received from Cosgrove. 

Can you give any examples of how Cosgrove’s volunteers have helped?

Both Nana and Linda have helped me a lot. Linda has been a big help with the laptop and has shown me how to do many things. Nana has helped by keeping me company and helping me with my art and needlework projects. I have been out with Linda in her car a few times and have been for walks with Nana and her husband. Nana has also driven me to Arnside to meet up with my friends for lunch.

Was it difficult for you at first to start using zoom to attend Cosgrove’s leisure classes?

It was very difficult to use zoom at first as I found it hard to concentrate. Now that I am attending more zoom classes each week, I'm much more confident.

Are you enjoying the zoom classes?

I enjoy the zoom classes very much and I also enjoy seeing my friends in the classes.

What advice would you pass on to others who are reluctant to try out the zoom classes?

I would tell people to give zoom classes a try because you not only catch up with friends but gain in confidence as well. All in all, I would tell anyone to give it a go!

Plans for the Future

Cosgrove recognised the need to continue with transformation to develop, promote and deliver a range of services which operate safely in our new pandemic world, producing clear guidance on how their services are able to operate at different levels of restrictions. Key to this has been their ability to test and try alternative approaches and work closely with Health and Social Care Partnerships, Local Authorities, and partner organisations to do this.

This week Cosgrove launched a new Supported Employment Hub to further develop its youth and adult employability pathways programme, Employ Me, supported by the Isabella Memorial Trust. Cosgrove has recently entered a strategic partnership with Young Enterprise Scotland, and the Hub is based at the YES Gardens in Rouken Glen Park. This will provide young people with a customised learning space, and opportunities to gain both work placement opportunities in the community and work towards ASDAN and SVQ qualifications. The Employ Me programme will help to facilitate employment opportunities for around 40 young people between the ages of 18 - 25 who have a learning disability and / or autistic spectrum condition each year.

Cosgrove has moved to provide a programme of outreach activities which are delivered on a 1:1 and small socially distanced groups basis, blended with a comprehensive online offer over 7 days for children and adults with learning disabilities and additional needs. Importantly the partnership with YES has given much needed access to safe, outdoor space allowing adult wellbeing groups to be delivered as restrictions eased. The traditional format of larger groups being supported to work together in large spaces is no longer sustainable and coupled with the requirement for office based staff to work from home has brought to a head the need to review the logistics of the current site at May Terrace. The organisation is working closely with the other care organisations to find a positive way ahead which sees us sustain a new generation of support as the world learns to live with COVID-19.

Cosgrove have been successful from the beginning, and for 60 years, as they have always worked with families, the people they support and their communities to transform services, modernising when required. Their family values and commitment to supporting the most vulnerable members of the community remain at the heart of everything it does. The organisation has been fortunate to have some strong, committed Trustees who have sustained the charity over many years. One such Trustee is Nicola Livingston who also celebrates being 60 this year.

I have had the privilege of being involved with Cosgrove Care in various capacities for nearly 25 years and have seen the organisation grow and develop from a small, caring organisation with Jewish values at its centre, based in one residential property in Pollokshields, to a larger, more modern, caring organisation with those same, deeply rooted Jewish values at its core, spread across a number of residential and day support sites in the heart of the current Jewish community.

As both Cosgrove and I reach our 60th birthdays this year, I am convinced that 40 is the new 60 – well for Cosgrove Care at least, as it continues to develop and lead the way forward with the combined efforts of dedicated staff, service users and families.

The organisation has recently recruited another new Trustee, Rt Honourable Jim Murphy who came forward to offer his support as a volunteer.

"Throughout my time in Parliament I was always impressed by Cosgrove's work in supporting the most vulnerable in the local community. Throughout the pandemic that work has become a lifeline for so many and as the organisation grows and changes, I thought I should get more involved and become a Trustee. I'm delighted to be able to play a small part in Cosgrove's future success."

Rt Honourable Jim Murphy, Trustee, Board of Directors

Cosgrove Care has been fortunate to have been supported by the Jewish Community for six decades. The community has supported Cosgrove to thrive. The many volunteers who support the work of the organisation, who raise funds, who organise events, who give of their time and money are greatly appreciated and have never been more needed.

Cosgrove Care have bold plans which will see the organisation develop new digital support, expand partnerships to diversify and drive new models of care and become the provider of choice for local people. The organisation urges those who want to get involved to get in touch by emailing: [email protected]