St Johnston - Carrigans     ~ Co Donegal.

St Johnston Carrigans Resource Group

St Johnston and Carrigans is situated on the Derry and Donegal Border on the banks of the River Foyle.  We have approximately a population of one thousand and five hundred people. The area is mainly rural with two small villages St Johnston and Carrigans which are separated by one mile.

The Resource Group was established in 1995 by a group of concerned local people who wanted to provide a venue for evening classes.

The Resource Group succeeded in gaining considerable funds from the European Union Special Programme for Peace and Reconciliation and the North Western Health Board to build a resource Centre and Creche and to employ a Community Development Worker.

The Centre was officially opened by the President of Ireland, Mary Mc Aleese, on the ninth of May 2001.

A FÁS Community Employment Project for the centre and its environs has been in existence for some time.

In 1991 the Group wrote that it has surpassed the expectations of previous years and have achieved so much but there is still more to be done and so the story continues.


The Resource Centre became a Centre for Learning and Mary Crossan and Stephen McNamee received a presentation to mark the occasion on 13 March 2009.

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Article by Mary Crossan:

 

St. Johnston & Carrigans Resource Group was established in 1995 by a number of local people who were concerned about the lack of facilities and opportunities for employment, training and educational opportunities within the community. The formation of the initial group and the work that followed was to lay the foundations for a number of significant developments that would reinvigorate and transform the social and community landscape of the St Johnston & Carrigans area. Through carrying out a needs analysis within the area , the group developed a plan which would begin to address the needs of the community. The plan which was developed contained two key strategic actions which would progress the overarching aim of providing information, support and providing employment education and training to those most marginalized within the community. This part of the plan involved applications to the Department of Social & family Affairs to become a Family Support Agency and to FAS Training & Employment Agency to become Community Employment Sponsors. Both of these applications were successful and have become important and essential elements in the day to day running of the overall project and the advancement of the key aims and objectives of St Johnston & Carrigans Resource Group.

 

In November 2000, their first CE Project began with 11 participants. Now in 2009, as a Family Resource Centre with a CE Project of 19 participants, it is a focal point and catalyst for community development in the area. The CE Project expanded in 2007-08 to include 4 workers based at the Newtowncunningham Community Development Initiative.

 

As we approach a new Community Employment term, the management committee of St Johnston & Carrigans Community Employment Project are aware of the challenging times we are all facing in terms of funding to maintain the high level of support, training and education required to meet the increasing demand for support , employment, education and training. In light of the economic downturn and the increasing number of people now on the live register the Community Employment scheme is needed more than ever as it can provide people with the opportunity to access employment and training.

HIGH RATES OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGE.

The needs of the local community of St. Johnston & Carrigans were assessed in a major community survey in 1999. High unemployment and high rates of early school leaving were identified, with long-term unemployment prevalent. This is still the case today, as was confirmed more recently by statistics compiled by various agencies. The Newtowncunningham Community Survey in 2007 found similar patterns of disadvantage.

The St. Johnston & Carrigans Community Employment Project aims to address this by offering further education and supported employment opportunities for adults, here in the community and through local further education centres. As part of this, we are fully committed to facilitating training and educational opportunities for CE workers, so that they can build up their self-confidence and progress into full-time education or employment.
 
The CE Project in the communities of St Johnston, Carrigans and Newtoncunningham is greatly needed as a pathway and signposting back to education and employment for local people.

HIGH UPTAKE OF TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES BY CE PARTICIPANTS

 

The uptake of training by our CE participants has been consistently high. There is a culture in the Family Resource Centre of encouraging and supporting participants to avail of the opportunities for further education and training that are on offer.  The NCDI has been similarly supportive of its CE workers and encourages training and development for all participants.

The Community Employment Project is a vital resource in providing staff to both St Johnston & Carrigans FRC and Newtoncunningham Development Initiative, which enables us to operate and deliver a quality service and to provide programmes, information and support to meet a wide range of local needs.  Without the CE Project, we would be greatly restricted and limited in the facilities, activities and services, which we could offer. We hope to continue to work in partnership with FÁS to offer a CE Project in our area for many years to come.

SPONSORING HISTORY

St Johnston & Carrigans Family Resource Centre was established in 1995 by local people who wanted to address the social, educational needs of this area. The core priority of creating opportunities and enabling of people to access employment through the community employment project continues to be one of the underpinning aims of the group.

In 2000, St Johnston & Carrigans Family Resource Centre opened its doors, and over the past nine years have been instrumental in facilitating and developing a huge level of programmes, which has transformed the community, social and educational infrastructure of the St Johnston & Carrigans area. In November 2000 of that year, the Resource Group became FÁS CE Sponsors, and employed one supervisor and eleven CE participants who provide important staffing roles within the centre. The Community Employment Project has provided an effective response to the lack of opportunity for employment in the local area. In November 2007, the CE Project expanded to include four workers based in the Newtowncunningham Community Development Initiative. This partnership with NCDI has continued to develop through 2008-09 with both projects working consistently to further the aims and objectives of their respective projects. In 2009, NCDI moved office, a development that was assisted by the community employment participants.

PROJECT YEAR CE PARTICIPANTS EMPLOYED

2000/01         11

2001/02         12

2002/03         11

2003/04         15

2004/05         15

2005/06         15

2006/07         15

2007/08         19 (15 in St. Johnston & Carrigans, 4 in Newtowncunningham)

2008/09         19 (15 participants St Johnston& Carrigans 4 participants based in Newtoncunningham)

 

IT Workers November to November

 

2000/01         Caroline McLaughlin

2001/02         Caroline McLaughlin

2002/03         Patrick Gormley

2003/04         Derrig Higgins

2004/05         Patrick Gormley

2005/06         Donna O' Neill

2006/07         Donna O' Neill

2007/08         Eamonn O'Connor

2008/09         Eamonn O' Connor

2009/2010    Patrick Gormley




In March 2002, St Johnston & Carrigans FRC were approved onto the Family Resource Programme, with core funding from the Department of Social & Family Affairs. The project has continued to grow and develop through maximizing every opportunity to progress their aims and objectives.
In 2003 the project was successful in accessing funding under the Programme for Peace & Reconciliation (Peace 11) to employ a full-time Youth Worker and part-time administrator from 2003-06. Since 2007 the CE Project Youth Workers, with the guidance and support of the FRC and playgroup staff have played a key role in providing a programme of activities to children and young people in the St Johnston & Carrigans area.

Since 2002, staffing levels within the FRC project have increased through funding made available by the Family Support Agency under the Dept. of Social & Family Affairs. In 2003, the administrator’s role was extended to full time and in November 2007, a full time Community Development Outreach Worker was recruited. The FRC team, which consists of the Voluntary Management Committee, a Project Coordinator, Administrator and Community Development Outreach Worker work closely with the Community Employment Supervisor in the planning and management of the CE Programme.


Job Titles 2009/10 Project
 

Based in St. Johnston & Carrigans FRC:
 

Environmental workers 4

Secretary 1
I.T. Support Worker 1

Youth activity workers 4
Caretaker 1

Childcare workers 3
Cleaner/Housekeeper 1

Centre Receptionists 2
Support Worker for Older People 1

 

Based in Newtowncunningham - NCDI:

 

Environmental Worker 1

Youth Worker 1

IT Worker & Publishing Assistant 1 Grounds person/Caretaker 1

Childcare Worker 1


Total Community Employment places being applied for; 23

 

Skills to be developed on the Project:

Participants will gain direct training and experience through working directly with other staff, which are suitable qualified in their areas of work and possess a high level of skills and expertise in their particular fields.

Within the Family Resource Centre programme, the Community employment participants will work closely with key workers and volunteers who will provide mentoring and on going support to encourage and support the worker to develop the necessary skills to carry out their own respective role within the FRC. Induction packs and helpful information will be provided where appropriate. For example, the CE administrator will receive training and induction from the FRC administrator in the first few weeks to enable the new worker to learn about the duties and tasks required to carry out their role. Support will continue through the length of the project to ensure that the worker will receive the appropriate level of support to develop their skills and maximize the opportunity for progression: childcare workers will benefit from the day-to-day support and supervision of a trained and experienced Playgroup staff. They will learn and be encouraged through shadowing and observing best practice, to develop practical techniques for working directly with pre schoolchildren and encouraging child-development. They will be involved in planning and review sessions with the childcare team, which will enable them to take a participatory role in the delivery of the childcare facilities and programmes.

Similarly, an environmental worker who has had no experience of joinery or gardening could learn some basic skills in these areas through assisting another worker who may have been doing this kind of work all his life. This support will be available and ongoing to all CE participants in the Family Resource Centre and the NCDI. Management and staff in both projects are supportive environments in which people who have been out of work for some time, or who have never worked in a formal setting can learn the basic routines of working life, for example, the importance of good timekeeping and attendance. We would help people become accustomed to this, so that at the end of the year, they would have the skills to embark on job seeking and possibly secure and hold onto a job.

Formal Skills Training:

St Johnston & Carrigans FRC and NCDI have an excellent record in the delivery of a wide range of training and education within their community. In terms of formal skills training, participants will be supported to undertake in-house courses at various levels of Computer Applications, using the excellent computer training facilities in either centre. Tutors can be brought in to deliver training in a wide range of personal development, job-seeking skills, or any type of academic course.

Since 2007 FAS have developed Fetac accredited training modules in a wide range of subjects. These are now being made available to all CE participants in-house and at other venues.

In 2009 St Johnston & Carrigans FRC received recognition as a certified Centre for Learning having achieved standards for the delivery of Third level education courses from Tuath & Letterkenny Institute of Technology. The Centre now has excess to technology such as digital projector, screens and two video conferencing units which will eventually facilitate distance learning in a wide range of training and educational establishments both in Ireland and the UK.

The proximity of colleges of Further and Higher Education in Derry, Strabane and Letterkenny provides a wide range of training opportunities, which would give people the skills they need to progress into employment. The Supervisor attends monthly meetings with the network of FÁS CE Supervisors in the Finn Valley area. These meetings can be used to co-ordinate joint training programmes, such as Lawnmower & Strimmer Maintenance. Participants from different projects can be brought together to make a viable group for a particular piece of training that might not otherwise be available.
For a more detailed account of work experience, support & training having being available to participants on our project and how this will assist in progression.

MEETING THE NEEDS:

St. Johnston & Carrigans Community Employment Project has been working closely and strategically with local people to respond to local needs. The staffing of the Resource Centre by FÁS Community Employment workers has been instrumental in creating innovative opportunities aimed at bringing people back into the education system to retrain and reskill people for entry into the job market. .
 

The building of the Resource Centre, incorporating a purpose-built Health Centre, has provided a focal point for community development in the area. It has initiated and facilitated many initiatives undertaken by local groups to improve the social and economic life of the area, as well as for the programmes being developed by the Resource Group itself. It has brought a sense of new possibilities to the area and local people are justly proud of it. Groups such as the local Fishermen’s Organisation, Residents Associations, the Women’s Group, the Men’s Group, the Craft Group, the Environment Group, Parent & Child Group all use the Centre as a base for meetings and activities.
 

In 2009 St Johnston & Carriagans FRC were successful in wininning an Aontas Star Award for the delivery of the Accelerate Minjbus Driving Programme. The accelerate programme was targeted men who were unemployed, underemployed and had left school at primary level with no formal qualifications. Eleven men completed the programme with a range of accreditations ranging from Fetac Level 3 in Maths, English , Personal Effectiveness and Computers, Safepassm Midas, Meeks and Pats Driving training programmes, First Aid, Health & Safety
 

In 2007/09 the FRC engaged with LYIT and four other centres in Donegal in the Centre for Learning Programme. The aim of this programme was to develop standards, policies and procedures to offer third level programmes in rural communities. St Johnston & Carrigans FRC have attained the standard and were awarded their certification at an Award Ceremony in LYIT in February 2009. In 2009 educational programmes such as the Access Course and the Research module of the Higher National Certificate in Community Studies were delivered in St Johnston & Carriagns.
 

The AMERGE group, made up of local women on housing waiting lists has been campaigning for better housing for themselves and their families. They have also been doing personal development work for themselves. The increase in their confidence has resulted in three of them being successful in getting jobs on our CE Project. This is the ideal setting for them to progress into further training and eventually employment. A number of the women are presently in part-time education. Others have returned to full-time education and employment. In 2004 “Aontas”, the National Agency for Adult Education used the Amerge group as a focus group for their consultation on Further Education for Women. In 2005, the Donegal Local Development Company gave the “Blow Your Own Trumpet Award” the group.

 



 

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