Thursday, December 15, 2011

15,000 employed and 70,000 trained

Brian Carty of the Irish Local Development Network
- Survey of local development companies indicates

Over an 18-month period, Local Development Companies (LDCs) directly supported an estimated 15,000 people to find their way back into paid work, placed around 70,000 people on training courses and provided support to about 10,000 small business start-ups. Many if not most of these people were long-term unemployed.
The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) has just published the results of a survey for 2010 and the first six months of this year. The survey covered just over half (27 out of 51) the LDCs in the country and our headline figures are based on a doubling of the numbers. The actual national impact may be slightly lower or indeed higher.

Seanad Debate - Opposition divided over “alignment”

Minister Phil Hogan (FG)
Minister Phil Hogan addressed the issue of “aligning” the local development sector with local government in the Seanad on November 9th.
The Local and Community Development Programme is, Hogan said, “a key social inclusion intervention” in tackling poverty and exclusion through partnership between the government and disadvantaged communities. 
He continued: “The programme is more relevant than ever, given the current economic crisis and the level of unemployment.”

Dail Report - Two Day Debate over community sector

Sinn Fein's Brian Stanley
On October 11th and 12th, the Dail debated the work of the voluntary and community sector, prompted by a motion from Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley (SF).

The motion, which ran to two pages, called for the sector to be recognised, and in particular for the Government “to establish an All-Ireland Consultative Civic Forum promised by the Good Friday Agreement, which would enable communities to engage with others across civic society and across the country and share information, learning and best practice on an all-Ireland basis.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wexford scheme has warmed 2500 homes & created jobs

Wexford Local Development
By Allen Meagher

Around ten Local Development Companies (LDCs) are delivering the Better Energy Homes Scheme around the country along with 20 other community-based organisations.
In Wexford, it’s been such a success that Wexford Local Development (WLD) were invited to showcase their work at an OECD/Pobal conference held in Dublin in October to examine local responses to long-term unemployment.

Group insulation schemes can jumpstart your local economy!

Gearoid Fitzgibbon writes

Investing in home insulation and energy efficiency gives a better return than most other sorts of investments: it saves the householder money, it gives work to local contractors, it circulates money back into the local economy, and, from a national perspective, reduces our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and lowers our carbon emissions. 

It also counters fuel poverty, which affects 16 % of households (according to a 2001 survey), a figure that will have only increased since the recession.
Where once the case was made for such investment from a “green” perspective, it can now be proven from a purely financial point of view. Communities and community groups around the country are hungry for actions to boost the stagnant local economy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tipp parish targets energy waste to spur rural economy

North Tipperary Energy Presentation

By Allen Meagher
An energy audit by community volunteers and development workers has found that a parish in County Tipperary spent over €1million last year to heat and power its 400 households

Thirty homes in the area had no insulation whatsoever while others were poorly insulated and were difficult, not to mind expensive, to heat. Much of the housing stock in the area dates back to before 1920.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

“I gained confidence; we all benefitted” - says 19-year-old organiser

Emeka Iroaganachi
Young people in Longford are putting it up to youth groups around the country to organise big multicultural events.

Emeka Iroaganachi, 19, is president of the Longford Multicultural Youth Group and he and his friends spent a year organising for one event in particular.

"When I originally joined the group," he tells us, "I had little interest or motivation. Then last year, I visited Belgium and saw what youth groups there were able to do, the cooperation between different nationalities. It motivated me to go out and do something, get something off the ground."

The challenges ahead in local development By Dr. Eileen Humphreys

Dr Eileen Humphreys

Dr Eileen Humphreys has written an article about local development in Ireland that is as up-to-date as you’ll find.

‘Local Development in Ireland: Review of the Current Position, Lessons and Future Challenges’ was published in August.
Dr Humphreys penned the piece for which brings together views from across Europe on how best to support local development work. 

The UL and Thurles-based lecturer began by pointing out that co-operative working has been at the heart of rural communities in Ireland for a long time.

Country will be clean as a whistle shortly

A scrap metal collection

- Communities hoovering up scrap metal to raise funds
Keeping a local community organisation or sports club going can be a costly affair and many took to collecting scrap metal this year to raise money. GAA clubs led the way and the idea spread like wildfire because donating costs nothing for local residents and it’s financially rewarding for the clubs.

Steel, for instance, has seen its value shoot up from €30 to €220 per tonne in less than 12 months. Portmarnock Community School collected scrap to raise funds for a project in Lesotho. Meelin GAA Club in Co. Cork also jumped on the idea. So too did Castleisland Soccer Club. The list goes on.

The first to notice the skyrocketing prices were criminal gangs and across the country they’ve stolen everything from beerkegs to bronzeworks. But in Donegal for instance, it is the GAA that is doing best from the rising prices by holding ‘Scrap Saturday’ collections.

International local development perspectives
A new website called ‘LDnet’ focuses on “local development” work across Europe and further afield. The site is being added to all the time and includes an up-to-date article on local development in Ireland.

It looks at a new pilot project recently launched in six US cities by the Obama administration called ‘Strong Cities, Strong Communities’. It also examines the pros and cons of British prime Minister David Cameron's ‘Big Society’ approach to supporting communities, and much more.

15,000 employed and 70,000 trained

- Survey of local development companies indicates
Over an 18-month period, Local Development Companies (LDCs) directly supported an estimated 15,000 people to find their way back into paid work, placed around 70,000 people on training courses and provided support to about 10,000 small business start-ups. Many if not most of these people were long-term unemployed.
The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) has just published the results of a survey for 2010 and the first six months of this year. The survey covered just over half (27 out of 51) the LDCs in the country and our headline figures are based on a doubling of the numbers. The actual national impact may be slightly lower or indeed higher.

County's First Gay Visibilty Week

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Visibility Week was launched on November 14 in Wexford – the first of it’s kind in the county. It was organised by ‘Gay Wexford’ and supported by LGBT Diversity and Wexford Local Development.

Events included a ‘liberating party’ celebrating LGBT pride, a lecture about Transgender Awareness, a slideshow presentation of the Irish Queer Archive, a Civil Partnership information seminar and a screening of the Hilary Swank movie ‘Boys Don’t Cry’.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

‘Youth Rising’ in print

Youth Rising has published 20,000 copies of a new youth magazine called ‘Youth Rising’ and if your local youth group wants copies, they’re available for free.
The magazine has already gone out to schools, colleges, youth centres, cinemas, cafes and other youth settings throughout the country.
‘Youth Rising’ features the voices of young people covering topics such as unemployment, sexual health, emigration, protest, politics, music and humour.
It features a full directory of youth organisations and help services throughout the island of Ireland.
To request bulk copies email:

Blue Drum – 10 Years

10 years of Blue Drum

Community arts organisation Blue Drum this year celebrates 10 years working with families and communities. Thousands of community workers have been trained in the arts and Blue Drum has developed a volunteer programme and an arts and health programme.

It’s time to measure the value of volunteering

Conor Hogan
-       EU Year of the Volunteer report

It has been said that for every euro spent towards volunteering, the yield is between €5 and €8. Such arithmetic is crude, however, for in reality they are priceless for those who need their help. 

Perhaps then there is some karma in the fact that altruism is good for you, as a US report published in 2007 found that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease.

As well as its health benefits, volunteering is also a definite way to express a person’s active citizenship. “With our sovereignty in this country currently compromised, volunteering is a way of making yourself involved in the decision making process,” Dr Yvonne McKenna of Volunteer Ireland told us.

Despite all these positives, only about a quarter of the European population gives of their free time to help others. It is thought that the Irish participation rate is below the European average, although no national volunteering records are kept.


Mary Lee Geary

As chairperson of the Community Development Association in Broadford in 2005, Mary Lee Geary turned activist and led the community in opposition to a proposed mobile phone mast in the village. 

It would have overlooked the site where the community had just secured planning permission for a crèche, social housing and after-school facilities.

The community marched and campaigned to oppose the mast for health reasons and because it would take away from the area’s scenic value. 

Mary is currently chairperson of West Limerick Radio among other voluntary positions.

What are you reading at the moment? A biography of Liam Cosgrave.

Whats the last film you saw? ‘The Guard’ starring Brendan Gleeson.

Person you most admire? Enda Kenny - because of his ability to bring people together.

How long are you volunteering in your local community? Since the early ‘90s.

High five looking at alignment of local govt & local development sector

Jim Miley
Five people were appointed by Minister Phil Hogan to a high level steering group in September to look at how a closer alignment between local government and the local development sector would work.

The five were chosen on the basis of their experience and considerable knowledge of both the Local Government and Local Development sectors, said the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. They are:

Jim Miley (pictured) - former chairperson of Concern Worldwide, founder of and former secretary general of Fine Gael (in the late ‘90s). He was once a broadcaster and also served in the past as chief executive of Dublin City Chamber of Commerce. Mr Miley will chair the steering group.

Geraldine Tallon - secretary general of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

Gerry Kearney – former secretary general of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs 

Dr. Patricia O’Hara – regional policy expert with professorial duties at the National Institute for Regional Spatial Analysis in Maynooth

Liam Keane - former regional co-ordinator of HSE South.

Martina Moloney - Galway County Manager.

The business of leaving Cork prison

"If I didn’t meet Breda before I left Cork prison, I’m not sure what I might have done.”

By Allen Meagher

James served four months in Cork prison and was the guest speaker people paid most attention to when he addressed a Business In The Community (BITC) event in Ringaskiddy in October.

On release James had nowhere to go and would have had nobody to support him only for BITC’s prisoner mentoring programme. Only for the Mentoring Service, he would almost certainly be homeless and may have re-offended.

He didn’t explain what landed him behind bars, didn’t give his surname and photography was disallowed. Among those listening were senior staff from Janssen, Ulster Bank, IBM, Musgraves and PepsiCo, all member companies of BITC.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The other 1%

Childcare worker Damien Walshe with Bobby Hogan and Jack Keely (credit Matt Kavanagh)
- 99% of childcare workers are female
By Conor Hogan

It is strange that while completely normal for a man to take care of his own children, those who wish to make a career out of childcare are often greeted with suspicion.

“The question is sometimes asked - ‘Why would a man want to be in a room with children?’ – but the same would never be posed about a woman,” says Andrew Doherty of the Waterford County Childcare Community.

While this is one of the reasons for the low participation rate by men in childcare, it doesn’t quite explain the especially low rate in Ireland, estimated at less than 1% of staff – the worst in the EU. Compare this to the higher than 20% participation rate in Norway and Denmark. 

So, is there any immediate difference between Ireland and these countries that could explain this disparity?

Men in Childcare Hit Creche Barrier

As a companion to the latest edition's feature on the lack of men in childcare, Changing Ireland commissioned this cartoon.


Community safety: Parents found wanting

Martin Power, UL

UL Sociology Dept launched a report on November 4th that, if its recommendations were implemented, could make life a lot easier for people in communities plagued by anti-social behaviour.

“It’s a taboo topic, but everyone we spoke to mentioned children who were not being parented,” said Dr Cliona Barnes, co-author of the ‘Feeling Safe in Our Community’with Dr Martin Power.

Take children outside!

Implementation Guide 

Play providers often say they need to strike a balance between the risks and the benefits of offering children challenging play opportunities. An easy to cut the risks down is to stay indoors, unhealthy though it may be in other ways.

In England, they’re trying to tackle this and the ‘Play Safety Forum’ with the backing of government departments responsible for children and education has produced a 128-page guidebook.

It’s called ‘Managing Risk In Play Provision: An Implementation Guide’ and Is free to download. Creche and childcare managers – in community and private settings here – may enjoy reading up on England’s approach while the turkey is in the oven this Christmas!

Download from:

Building breakthrough communities

New Carnegie Resilience book
Tuesday November 22nd saw a networking session for community people in Ireland interested in the concept of resilience, REPORTS GEAROID FITZGIBBON.
The “Networking for Community Resilience” event was hosted by Davie Philip ( and Chris Chapman and supported by Carnegie UK Trust.

Nick Wilding said Carnegie is backing Community Resilience by supporting the sharing of best practice in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales via its online network (  As Mr Wilding pointed out, the concept of building ‘Community Resilience’ is backed up by on-the-ground experience and academic research into social capital.

Carnegie recently sponsored a handbook called ‘Exploring Community Resilience’ which shares stories and promotes greater co-operation among community activists, professionals, funders and policy makers.
Download from this link:

Meanwhile, Deborah Frieze, of the Berkana Institute did a session on the importance of games and play in community work, giving examples from Brazil and Africa of how “community games” had been used to tackle intractable community problems, as detailed in her book ‘Walk Out Walk On’.

International community development conference

NUI Maynooth
An international community development conference was held in Maynooth
 on November 16th with speakers attending from Russia, Scotland, Australia, Holland, Liberia, Belgium and Ireland.

Around 170 people took part and the event was oversubscribed. “It wasn’t all about programmes and structures for change,” said one participant, “but about taking time to think about the need for community development today to bring about social change.”

Six Tips for Michael D Higgins

Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins
On November 11th, Michael D Higgins was finally sworn in as Uachtarán na hÉireann, and his election has been broadly welcomed.

Changing Ireland caught up with various people in the Community and Voluntary sectors, and asked them a couple of short questions about our new poet President.

New Women’s Aid service for immigrants

The Translation Service is available in 8 languages

Are you working with a female immigrant experiencing domestic violence who has difficulty speaking English?

In September, Women’s Aid launched a translation service for women experiencing violence or abuse in the home. The service is provided over the phone via the organisation’s helpline (1800 341 900) which is open from 10am-10pm seven days a week.