Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Speed dating for community groups


L-R: Susan Power, Waterford City Childcare Committee; Eilishe O’Keeffe, Brothers of Charity; John McDonald, Waterford Disability Network; Fiona Lewis, South East Simon; Paul Murphy, Waterford Warmer Homes.

Might a replacement have been found for C&V sector “open days” held at local level where every organisation has a stall in a hall? 
ROBERT McNAMARA REPORTS:
Last May, Waterford Area Partnership (WAP)  hosted ‘Making the Link’ a speed-dating event for community groups where each group’s rep has two minutes to woo the ‘dates’ from other community organisations.
The café style networking event took place in the Edmund Rice Heritage Centre, Barrack St in Waterford City and was a huge success according to Margaret Mulligan LCDP Coordinator at WAP.
“It allowed each participant to meet representatives from all the other organisations and gave them the opportunity to share information on the work they do. They were also able to exchange ideas and share contact details,” she said.
“Many of the participants were really amazed at the number of groups active in the city and the wide range of work that they do. They were delighted to meet people from other organisations who would be able to offer valuable support in the future,” Margaret added.

Anna Walsh from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service said, “It was great to be able to put faces to the names that I have been dealing with over the phone, the event was very worthwhile”.
The event was open to community and voluntary groups and the main statutory agencies. 
“The dramatic increase in demand for assistance, information and support from state services is placing enormous pressure on their frontline staff. This can be very frustrating and time-consuming. Identifying the right person or section in an organisation can help reduce delays and get accurate information quicker.  Community groups found the event to be of real benefit in helping to build contacts in the statutory sector,” said Jack Walsh of WAP.
WAP have also published a “Guide to Services” leaflet for the Waterford area which includes everything from social welfare to recreational facility contact details. This is in addition to the website www.waterfordlife.ie, which can be used to access information about services in the city.
Note: WAP’s speed-dating style events were held in pursuit of LCDP Goal 1 which seeks to “promote awareness, knowledge and uptake of a wide range of statutory, voluntary and community services.”

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