North West Parents & Friends Association

About Us

Our Mission

Our Story

Today, in the North West of Ireland, there are day-care and pre-school services, community group homes, special schools, vocational training units and sheltered workshops for people with intellectual disabilities/special needs. These excellent facilities exist mainly because of the dedication of the North West Parents and Friends Association back in the 1960′s.

In 1963, the Association was spurred on by the vision of one courageous young Sligo mother who refused to take “No” for answer, when she desperately sought help for her son with special needs. In that year, a small group of parents’ of children with special needs and a few supporters came together armed with little more than hope and the will to work. They formed the first ”North West Association of Parents and Friends, and began by providing voluntary assistance for the Sisters of La Sagesse, in their work for people with intellectual disabilities/special needs at Cregg House, Sligo.


In the most appropriate setting, and within the framework of regular evaluation, to achieve for each individual person the highest possible level of health and social gain, from the best use of the resources that are available to the Association.

Innovative Step Forward

The Association, in 1967, was convinced that life for the individual with an intellectual disability should be as normal as possible. To achieve this aim, and despite reservations expressed by others, it was decided to take a bold, innovative step forward, and construct two chalets, with accommodation in each for eight to ten adults and
a House Parent, thus providing family type accommodation for the girls who had started working in Cregg House.

The Association decided to assist the Sisters of La Sagesse and took responsibility for the construction of two chalets and the access road. These were completed in 1970. They were the first of their kind in Ireland, and proved so tremendously successful that work then started in 1970 on eleven additional bungalows, which when finished would cater for children approaching adulthood. Of the £ 14,550 spent by the Association on the chalets and the approach road, a grant of £6,500 was eventually received from the Department of Health.

St. Ciarans Services NWPF Carrick-on-Shannon

Activities and Achievements for 2022-2023

In 2022, we have developed a new Cultural Companion Programme in conjunction with Sligo Hawks Well, to develop cultural awareness of the arts amongst our service users and the wider community.

In 2022, We were delighted that RSW was nominated as a finalist in the national Cara Active Disability Award for the Best Healthcare Programme.

In 2022, we broadened our services to develop an outreach programme for young adults with Autism 18-24 years. We conducted zoom sessions 1 hour twice weekly. This programme was run in conjunction with an ETB tutor and RSW, and facilitated educational, health and well-being courses for these young adults from Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Longford.

Organisation Chart

Our Team

Dr Nigel McCarley

Chief Executive Officer of NWPF

Nigel is a dual qualified nurse (RMN and RGN) with extensive clinical and managerial experience in Ireland. As an academic, Nigel has conducted a number of significant research studies leading to peer reviewed publications. With a special interest in international development, Nigel has worked on assignments in 12 countries, most recently in Fiji. Nigel joined NWPF in June 2022.

Cathy Maye

Human Resource (HR) Officer 

Since joining NWPF in 2013, Cathy has worked independently to implement structure in all areas of HR within the organisation.  Prior to joining NWPF, Cathy worked as an International HR Generalist at Bank of America and has worked in various HR roles over 8 years.  Cathy holds a Bachelor of Business Studies in HRM Degree, in additional to certificates in Payroll and Booking Keeping.

Florence Mc Loughlin (R.N.I.D)

Manager/Nurse in Charge of Day Services in RSW.

Florence has 34 years of experience, working in various roles and organisations in the Learning Disability field and joined NWPF in 2004 where she has enjoyed developing the day service over the years, networking with external stakeholders and implementing New Directions.

Edel Gallagher

Manager at St. Ciaran’s Services in Carrick on Shannon.

Edel is dual qualified as an RNID and RGN and has many years of experience working in Intellectual Disability services in Ireland. Edel has been part of the NWPF team since 2000.


Sarah Neary, RNID

Manager of Enniscrone Services

Trained as an Intellectual Disability Nurse in Cregg House/ St Angela’s College in 2005. Since then, she has worked in Sligo/ Galway/ Australia and Enniscrone. She joined theNorth West Parents and Friends team in 2016.

Hazel Clarke

Operations Officer

Hazel has been part of the Administration Team since she commenced with North West Parents and Friends Association in 1983.  She has been part of many changes within the Organisation over the past four decades and  played an important role in the Organisations’ implementation team in attaining and maintaining externally assessed accreditation to  the PQASSO/Trusted Charity and Improving Quality (IQ) Quality Standards”.

Mary Boylan

Finance Officer

Mary joined the Organisation in 1998 bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience in finance and administration having previously spent 20 + years working in similar roles within Manufacturing, Retail , and Accountancy. In her spare time she is actively involved as volunteer and director within a healthcare support organisation.

Our Health Care Assistants

What our Health Care Assistants have to say about working in NWPF.


Health Care Assistant

I’ve been in RSW for almost a year.

Not every day is the same and the guys here just make it so much fun.

Reading, Knitting, Horse riding and Music.

The environment is just so welcoming the moment you step in. There is always something new to learn from the staff and service users.


Health Care Assistant

1 month in RSW but have been working in the Disability sector for 5 years

Getting to work with people every day. Helping the guys to increase their independence and achieve their goals.

Running, swimming, football- playing and going to see Sligo Rovers. Going to movies, shows, gigs and cooking.

RSW has a great philosophy, and the staff do their best to promote independence and choice for the people that use the service.


Health Care Assistant in Lake Lodge and RSW

I’ve been working in Lake Lodge/ RSW for two and half years.

Love the clients and get on great with all the staff.

I like walking and watching Tv

It’sfriendly, welcoming, and everybody (service users) isvery happy in the environment.


Canteen Supervisor/Housekeeper

I’ve been working in RSW for 5 and half years

Everyone works together as a team for the service user

Reading, Walking Watching tv