Read the full article in Issue 56 - Winter 2016/’17 of ‘Changing Ireland’!
RURAL NEGLECT V. POTENTIAL
WHAT SUPPORTS ARE THERE FOR RURAL UNEMPLOYED MEN?
Long-term unemployment can lead to “a lack of motivation and borderline depression”
BY CIAN MATTHEW KEARNS
Across rural Ireland, low quality jobs and unemployment have forced thousands of people into poverty. Yet, their suffering is rarely seen.
Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link, describes hidden poverty as, “the lack of opportunity available to people. It’s the falling off of services. It’s people who are getting themselves into poverty, not being able to afford basics, which you don’t really see.”
He highlights how the problem is exasperated in rural areas: “You can travel around...and there’s no great signs of poverty there, whereas in urban you tend to see physical deterioration.”
The figures back him up. Unemployment rates in rural Ireland continue to however around the 10% mark. In contrast, Dublin and the Mid-East score 8% and 6% respectively.
Furthermore, a 2014 Survey on Income and Living Conditions found that almost one in five people in rural areas were at risk of poverty, compared to 15% living in urban settings. Although it might not be obvious, rural Ireland is still hurting.
Boland says, “The solutions have to include developing much more micro-enterprises in the rural regions.” He points out that, collectively, small businesses are the largest employment providers in rural Ireland. More growth in enterprises means more local jobs and more sustainable rural communities.
Emily Casey is a Youth Worker with Clare Youth Service. She runs a programme under the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) aimed at tackling youth unemployment in Clare, a county where three out of five people live rurally.
Casey explains that unemployment is a downward spiral. “When you’re out of work and have no routine your routine is all messed up. You’d be doing most of your living during the night-time and sleeping during the day. People would have a certain level of lack of motivation and a borderline bit of depression as well.”
Casey holds one-to-one meetings where she helps people identify career goals and prepare development plans. The participants, aged 18 to 24, come from a wide range of educational backgrounds, from early school leavers to degree holders.
Casey says, “I don’t give advice. I give support and I facilitate. That’s my role. It’s not to advise and lead someone down a certain path....They tell me what they want and I facilitate them in how to get there.”
The programme is innovative in that Casey travels to the participants, rather than they to her. This allows people in rural areas with few transport options to take part. However, in such locations, training opportunities and jobs are limited. Casey says, “There is a need recognised to have more accessible training in these areas.”
One problem with enterprise promotion and YEI style programmes is that they often only target those already unemployed. People trapped in low paying, part-time or poor quality jobs are excluded.
Casey admits this: “There are lots of people in casual work who are finding it very difficult. They want to move on, they feel they’re stuck....It’s something we’ll be reporting back.”
Perhaps, under-employment, as well as unemployment, needs more attention in the future.
ABOUT THE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT INITIATIVE:
The YEI is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes. It provides support to young people living in the regions where youth unemployment was higher than 25% in 2012.
WESTERN DEV’T COMMISSION
The Western Development Commission (WDC)
promotes social and economic development in
seven counties in the West of Ireland - Donegal, Leitrim,
Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.
Finding ways to boost employment in these counties is
critical to the WDC’s work. It operates a Community Loan
Fund as well as funds for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Three of the current projects spearheaded by the WDC include:
www.lookwest.ie www.biopad.eu www.rokwood.eu
More info: wdc.ie
IRISH RURAL LINK
Irish Rural Link, formed in 1991, is a national network
representing rural communities.
It directly represents nearly 500 community groups in the
Republic and has a combined membership of 25,000.
It seeks to “represent the interests of community groups in
disadvantaged and marginalised rural areas by highlighting
problems, advocating for appropriate policies and sharing
experiences and examples of good practice.”
To give but one example of its work, IRL led in establishing a
national network for the many groups providing Meals On Wheels.
THE CEDRA REPORT
The Commission for the Economic Development
of Rural Areas (CEDRA) was established in September 2012,
with Mr. Pat Spillane as its chairman.
Its 2014 report on the future economic potential of rural Ireland.
It was coordinated by Teagasc in conjunction with the
Western Development Commission, the
Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Read the report at: http://bit.ly/2iz5Yqt
IT COSTS ¤10k P.A. TO RUN A CAR
STATS AND FACTS
16% of the population are at risk of poverty. However, in rural areas the figure rises to 19%, versus 14% in urban centres.
• Those most at risk include people living in rented accommodation below market value (36%) and those who are unemployed (40%).
• We know, nationally, unemployment has dropped. However, the gains are poorly spread. Over 62% of the increase in employment last year came in counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow.
• Western Counties saw a decline of 8.6% in the number of registered active enterprises between 2008 and 2014. The rest of the state only dropped 1%.
• Over 114,800 people are employed in the agriculture, forestry and sheries sectors.
• A third of farms were economically vulnerable in 2015, according to Teagasc. Brexit is forecast to heap additional pressures on farming families.
• The estimated costs of running a car for a year is ¤10,850. Public transport is patchy in many rural areas and non-existent in others.
Sources of Information: cso.ie, socialjustice.ie, wdc.ie, rte.ie, theaa.ie.
EU-WIDE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE GROUP
1st meeting held in LIT
In November, Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) hosted the first meeting of a new European group called ‘Social Enterprise Development, Education and Training Tools’ (Sedett) which is focused on supporting social enterprise in Europe.
The Department of Applied Social Studies at LIT is a member of the group.
Backed by ¤274,000 in funding, SEDETT aims to increase “awareness and knowledge” about social enter-prises by examining their nature, purpose, governance, leadership, management and impact assessment practices.
The group aims to produce an online self-assessment tool for social enterprises so they can learn how to best assess their development needs.
The group will organise a “blended e-learning course” for people interested in or working in social enterprises. Case study research will be central to the learning.
On the first day of the transnational group’s meeting at the LIT, the participants visited St. Munchin’s Community Centre, a social enterprise operating on the northside of Limerick City.
For more information, email Cathy Jones at LIT: firstname.lastname@example.org
REPORT BY A. MEAGHER