Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mind your tongue, warns President Higgins

Anna Vissor and President Michael D Higgins at the Advocacy Initiative

President Michael D. Higgins has criticised the use of expressions such as “service users” and “clients” to describe people who interact with community and voluntary sector organisations.

He was speaking at a conference organised on February 13th by a new organisation called the Advocacy Initiative. Since President Higgins delivered a completely different speech to the one written for him and since it isn’t available anywhere else, ‘Changing Ireland’ is pleased to present it. 

Transcription by Conor Hogan.  Youtube embed at the bottom of the page.

Tá an-athas orm bheith ar maidin. I’m very happy to be here, indeed, the process of my speeches now is that I’m becoming ever more dynamic, so I’m changing them as I go along all the time. I’d like to respond indeed to your own quotation of mine over address. The first thing I’d want to say is to wish you well in sharing knowledge. The most useful thing I can do in a few minutes is to offer you a few reactions to your programme as I saw it. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

25,000 jobs possible, says John Murphy

John Murphy CEO Speedpak

The EU Commission’s ‘Social Business Initiative’ reflects the value and potential the EU Commission sees in models of social enterprises and entrepreneurship right across Europe.

Social enterprises represent on average 5% of GDP in the EU but only 3% in Ireland – so we have some catching up to do. It’s estimated that if over 5 years we could reach the EU average we would create 25,000 jobs.

A London Perspective for Limerick

Michael Pyner
Michael Pyner established the Shoreditch Trust in Hackney, London, in 2000 and since then it has become a multi award-winning community investment and regeneration agency.

Social enterprise – has its time finally come?

By Tanya Lalor and Gerard Doyle

Recent moves by the EU Commission on social enterprise will have a significant influence in years to come.

The Commission now sees social enterprise as being at the heart of the drive to create a more inclusive model of economic development than the current market-led one.

Zumbathon - a fun way to find funds

An Cosán Zumbathon
An Cosán, a women's centre for learning, leadership and social enterprise based in Jobstown, Tallaght, have taken to some innovative ways to raise money.

Aisling Freeman has a voluntary fundraising role with the organisation. “We hope to do at least two fundraisers a year,” she says, “In 2011, we held a do in the Maldron Hotel which was very successful. We raised €6,000.” 

Her most recent fundraising activity with the group was a Guinness World Record attempt, which took place in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on February 12th.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Countries Warmest Centres are in Offaly

Over the past two years, 41 community centres in Offaly were audited  for energy-efficiency and a half- dozen of them have upgraded their centres through funding from the Rural Development Programme. 

Walls were dry-lined and insulated, windows replaced, better boilers installed and lighting changed. Among the areas with warmer more user-friendly community facilities now are St. Kilcormac, Coolderry, Ballykilmurray, Clonbullogue and Lusmagh. 

The Energy Audit Initiative is  now closed. However, for anyone with  queries about how Offaly Local Development Company conducted the audit and the repair/refurbishment scheme, contact Pauline Hoctor, OLDC,  Millennium House, Main St, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. T: 057 9322 850 

Very Good News From Brussels for Communities

There’s good news from Brussels as more funds may begin flowing towards communities throughout Europe in two years time.

The European Commission talks for the first time in its spending plans about “community-led local development” as it looks towards 2014-’20.

The folk who write for LDnet want to know what this gobbly- gook phrase means, while acknowledging the Commission’s proposals mark “a turning point in favour of local development”. 

Mary Connors is Traveller of the Year

Mary Connors
On December 1, 2011, Mary Connors from New Ross was presented with the overall Traveller Pride 2011 Award at a ceremony supported by ten national Traveller organisations.

She said, “I would hope that my grandchildren will not have to spend their lives fighting  for the things that are basic human needs and that many other people take for granted such as accommodation, education and common courtesy which has been in short supply for many a Traveller.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Clifden’s Mary Kirby – 30 years volunteering

Mary Kirby/Clifden

Cancer survivor, volunteer and community organiser. There are many things that exemplify Mary Kirby of Clifden, Connemara, but it is her unwavering optimism that shines through the most.

“I always look at the glass as half-full, no matter what problems you have, whether it's medical or financial, if you really look for the positive side that will take you through. I have found that in my own life.”

Innovative micro enterprise project comes to Ireland

Entrepeneurs 4 Change
- Community groups giving would-be entrepreneurs second chance

Five community organisations have pulled together and pooled resources to bring a new entrepreneurial programme to Ireland, one which has proven a success in the USA in giving social enterprises a start. In January, the programme helped 20 business hopefuls in Wexford and Dublin who initially had loan applications refused.

The ‘Entrepreneurs4change’ programme which may be repeated in other parts of the country began when a community organisation in Co. Wexford and four others from Dublin, including a national Traveller organisation linked up. The organisations are Dublin Simon Community, National Traveller MABS, Job Care, South West Wexford Community Development Programme and (Dublin’s) South Inner City Community Development Association. The latter two are part of the LCDP.

Especially for people who’ve been excluded

Des Burke
The European Volunteer Service (EVS) contains “specific supports to enable the participation of young people with fewer opportunities, for example as a result of disability, educational inequality, poverty or economic exclusion,” says Des Burke of Léargas.

The organisation funded nine young people with fewer opportunities than most to volunteer through the EVS programme in 2011. Funding is available to meet specific needs such volunteers may have and they can opt to do a short-term voluntary stint of between anything from a fortnight to two months. This may then lead to a longer-term service.

For our previous posts on EVS click here and here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New counselling initiative reaching people for first time

“It helped to give me a kickstart in life," a participant in the Gateway Project said of it. "It gave my life meaning and made me want to make something of it.”

Established in Dublin in 2004 as a pilot scheme between the then Rathmines Community Partnership and mental health providers locally, Gateway is one of the most successful mental health projects in Ireland.

 “The key is integration,” community development worker Martha Griffin said, “giving people autonomy over their own lives and combating the problems of stigma and labeling.”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

WORKER PROFILE: Martha Griffin, Rathmines, Dublin

Martha Griffin (picture by Conor Hogan
POSITION: Community Development Worker

Martha Griffin has worked for the Rathmines Pembroke Community Partnership for three and
a half years. Previously, she studied Legal Studies and Taxation. Last year she spoke publicly about her experience of mental ill health and recovery as part of the ‘See Change’ campaign.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Intergenerational work challenges old (and young) stereotypes

Lynda Wakefield pictured with Intergenerational project participent Sean Daly
By Conor Hogan

“Young people and older people,” community worker Lynda Wakefield says, “are probably the two most discriminated-against demographics in society. They are also probably the most discriminating in terms of ageism.”

She notes that while it is normal for to have youth centres and retirement homes, common areas where they both can mix are a rarer thing altogether. “We don’t make it easy for the two to mix,” she says, “so when we do, we need to make it meaningful.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wheel & Irish Rural Link to ensure everybody hears about tv switchover

On October 24th, rabbit ears and fuzzy receptions will become a thing of the past in Ireland thanks to the digital switchover. This change will affect roughly a quarter of a million households who are currently using only the analogue service.

Léargas actively looking for volunteers

Conor Hogan reports
No Irish demographic has been hit harder in the recession than the young. In fact, of the working population under 30, one in three is now unemployed – a statistic that doesn’t bear thinking about. 

Many are hit with the uncomfortable choice of drawing the dole, working for free as an intern or emigrating. There are some interesting options, however, the European Volunteer Service (EVS) being one of them.