Monday, August 1, 2011

3,000 COMMUNITY GROUPS APPLY FOR TÚS WORKERS

BY ALLEN MEAGHER
Across the country, community groups are learning that they don’t have to be a registered charity or even have a bank account to apply for a Tús worker.
Over 3,000 groups had applied for a worker by July with 1,200 of those considered worthwhile placements.
By December of this year, there should be 5,000 people doing 19.5 hours a week in local communities through the Tús scheme and numbers may double or triple in the future.
Community groups that apply need to have a good, meaningful work placement available.
The groups don’t employ the worker and are not responsible for their supervision – that’s for their Local Development Company and across the country around 200 Tús scheme supervisors are currently being recruited to manage that work through the 52 LDCs in the Local and Community Development Programme.
Community groups in urban as well as rural areas can apply. After 12 months, when the worker’s placement finishes, the community group can apply for a new worker.
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Rural Social Scheme workers in Co. Cork. Tús is similar.

TÚS FIGURES EAST TO WEST
The following are the figures in relation to the Tús Scheme up to July from six areas, urban and rural:
Clare: 300 letters sent out; 250 replied ‘Yes’ before the closing date; 10 no replies.
Offaly: 120 letters sent out; 82 replied ‘Yes’ before the closing date; 20 sought exclusions; 18 initially did not reply but all subsequently agreed to participate.
Laois: 30 letters sent out; 23 replied ‘Yes’ before the closing date; 2 sought exclusions; 5 no replies.
Finglas postal area: 77 letters sent out; two-thirds replied ‘Yes’ before the closing date; 12 sought exclusions.
Dublin Northside: 30 letters sent out; 21 replied ‘Yes’ before the closing date.
Meath: 45 letters sent out; 36 replied ‘Yes’ before the closing date.


SCHEME HAS CRITICS
Tús is attracting a high level of interest around the country, particularly in rural areas. It has also attracted criticism and has been labeled ‘workfare’ by some.
Other are concerned the Scheme risks displacing volunteers. However, there’s a lot of work in communities that no one volunteer has the time to do. Each Tús worker gives 19.5 hours a week for 12 months.
A frequent point of criticism is that individuals can’t apply for Tús placements. It’s a lottery.
However, there are five other schemes that people can apply for including for example the new Jobbridge work placement programme.
The Summer edition of ‘Changing Ireland’, currently being published, includes two letters from critics and one of those letters (overlong for full print publication) is accessible on our new OPINION BLOG.
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FULL COVERAGE IN 'CHANGING IRELAND'
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Protection has been upfront in saying it has twin objectives with the Scheme - to assist communities and to uncover people who are capable of work but unwilling. People's welfare entitlements may come under scrutiny if they do not have a good reason for being unwilling to participate. 
Going on the high participation rates, however, it seems the Scheme has shown there is a hunger for work among the unemployed. Not surprising considering its scarcity.
Check out the upcoming issue of ‘Changing Ireland’ for full coverage, with interviews from Dublin, Mayo and Kilkenny with people running the Scheme.

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