South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd (SKDP)
South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd (SKDP) is a local area Development company, established in May 1991 to promote and support the Development of sustainable and vibrant communities in the south Kerry area.
South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd promotes Community Development within the South Kerry area. Community Development has long been accepted as an approach which is about enabling socially excluded people to work together in shaping a more just and equal society.
It involves tackling inequalities by forming groups ,developing knowledge and awareness and working towards the achievement of agreed goals.[toggle title=”The SHEP Certificate in Social Awarness and Community Empowerment”]SHEP SACE Brochure [/toggle] [toggle title=”Local and Community Development Programme Guidelines”]
LCDP Guidelines [/toggle] [toggle title=”Social Inclusion”]
Social inclusion is the work undertaken to tackle the issues of poverty, disadvantage and discrimination experienced by various people and communities. For example people can be said to experience social exclusion when they have poor access to services, to education, health and employment, or are living on low-income, or at risk of discrimination.
The partnership has developed its plans to counter social exclusion and isolation through its collaborations with local community organizations, non-government organizations and state agencies. We know from our experience in SKDP, and from our consultations and research that certain areas and groups are at higher risk of experiencing social exclusion. Certain rural areas as well as village and town areas have greater need of support and programmes etc. Also, some people are at risk of discrimination or inequality, for example Travellers, members of the Gay & Lesbian community, people with a disability etc.
[/toggle] [toggle title=”Defining Tackling Social Exclusion”]
(extract from Pobal Local & Community Development Programme Guidelines)
Social exclusion has a broader meaning than poverty. Social exclusion is a process whereby certain groups are excluded from participating fully in society by virtue of their poverty (see opposite), education status or other life skills. The process of social exclusion has been defined as: Cumulative marginalization from production (employment), from consumption (income poverty), from social networks (community, family and neighbours), from decision-making and adequate quality of life.
Social exclusion is a reality for many individuals and communities in Ireland today. An individual may be socially excluded without living in poverty, for example Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) young people living in rural areas may experience social exclusion in terms of victimization and harassment at school, or social isolation from their family. The effects of these experiences may contribute to high incidence of drug use or mental health issues. And therefore these individuals may be socially excluded without necessarily being at risk of poverty.[/toggle] [toggle title=”What is the Community Development approach?”]
The challenges in this work are complex and require long-term commitment by all concerned – no one group has all the answers. South Kerry Development Partnership works in partnership with state agencies, non-government organisations and community groups to develop projects and programmes to combat social exclusion. Using a Community Development approach these are the actions for 2012 run in conjunction with a range of community groups and partner organizations.
Defining Community Development (extract from Pobal guidelines on the Local & Community Development Programme).
Community Development has long been accepted as an approach which is about enabling socially excluded people to work together in shaping a more just and equal society. It involves tackling inequalities by forming groups (collectivising individual needs), developing knowledge and awareness and working towards the achievement of agreed goals (strategic action). It is therefore a key strategic approach evident both in the goals of the Programme and eligible actions defined later in this document. The DCEGA defined Community Development as being:
“about promoting positive social change in society in favour of those who benefit least from national and global social and economic developments… (it) seeks to challenge the causes of poverty and disadvantage and to offer new opportunities for thoselacking choice, power and resources”
Pobal has defined community development as:
“..a developmental activity composed of both a task and a process. The task is the achievement of social change linked to equality and social justice, and the process is the application of the principles of participation, empowerment and collective decision making in a structured and coordinated way”.
[/toggle] [toggle title=”What are the stages of Community Development?”]
In order to provide LDC and community groups with a basis for engagement the Community Development Stages Matrix was devised. This provides a benchmark for assessment of the current development status of the general community sector and/ or subsets of communities of interest — e.g. Travellers, lone parents, disadvantaged women etc. The Matrix relates these levels to the development task facing community workers — the first stage necessitating pre-development work, the second indicating the need for enhanced capacity and the third pointing towards agenda-setting strategic work.
The Community Workers Cooperative in Ireland identifies the essential, distinguishing elements of community work as work that:
- Involves and enables people to work together to influence, change and exert control over the social, political and economic issues that affect their lives.
- Is about a collective focus rather than a response to individual crisis.
- Challenges inequitable power relationships within society and promotes the redistribution of wealth and resources in a more just and equitable fashion.
- Is based on participative processes and structures which include and empower
- marginalised and excluded groups within society.
- Is based on solidarity with the interests of those experiencing social exclusion.
- Is understood as including both geographic communities and communities of interest.
- Presents alternative ways of working, seeks to be dynamic, innovative and creative in approach.
- Challenges the nature of the relationship between the users and providers of services.
- Is open and responsive to innovation from other countries and seeks to build alliances with other organisations challenging marginalisation in their own countries and globally.
- Involves strategies which confront prejudice and discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, class, religion, socioeconomic status, age, sexuality, skin colour or disability.
The Partnership has been addressing isolation and disadvantaged experienced by some men and has run a few projects on this issue including initial research, an outreach project and men’s social events. In 2011 we invited John Evoy, Development Officer with the Irish Men’s Sheds Association to give a presentation and arising from this we set about supporting the development of Men’s Sheds in the SKDP area.
Men’s Sheds is a bit like ‘what it says on the tin’ – a place for men to go, to meet other men in a social atmosphere and to take on some practical projects.
A Men’s Shed is any community-based, non-commercial organisation which is open to all men where the primary activity is the provision of a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where the men are able to gather and/or work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of other men and where the primary objective is to advance the health and well- being of the participating men. Men’s sheds may look like a shed in your back yard yet they innovatively share some characteristics of both community education and health promotion projects.
The idea originated in Australia and is very well advanced there. Strong links have developed between the Irish Men’s Sheds Association and the Australian Men’s Sheds Association. A shed can be a room, an old warehouse or factory where men would have access to some workshop tools and equipment to take on small or not so small projects, eg woodwork, boatbuilding, restoring old engines etc. It is not a training course but training is sometimes offered, all depending on what the men themselves want to take on. It is a social space for men who have some spare time regardless of what skills they have – they might even learn new skills.
As of June 2012 there are two sheds up and running, one in Kenmare and one in Killarney. The Kenmare shed has moved from the Adult Education Centre to a vacant industrial unit – it needed bigger doors to bring the boats in and out! Their woodwork course last Autumn has led them on to a boat-building project and a Currach is now taking shape, as well as old boats being carefully restored.
The Killarney Men’s Shed is based in the former Ross Products building on Lewis Road where they have converted half of the old factory into a workshop, a social room/ kitchen and office. There are a few ‘Del-Boys’ in this project as they have been very adept at finding all sorts of bits and pieces needed to renovate the premises including old back doors, fitted kitchens and heavy-duty workbenches. The shed was honoured to have David Helmer, Chief Executive of the Australian Men’s Shed Network perform the official opening of their premises on 20th June this year. Kerry Mental Health Association has been a very pro-active partner in supporting and developing this project.
Also, as of June 2012, arrangements for premises for Men’s Sheds in Killorglin, Caherciveen and The Gaeltacht are being finalised.
South Kerry Development Partnership has been very involved in the development of these projects to date through identifying premises, advising the men’s groups on how to organise themselves, preparing a constitution, advising of grant applications, supporting the group’s plans and labour through the RSS/TUS schemes. These sheds provide a very positive outlet for men who have the time and interest to learn something new, to take on a project or to share a skill they have with other men in an informal and social environment.
Through our work with other organizations and research/ analysis Local Authority Housing Estates are highlighted as areas at high risk of disadvantage and exclusion. In our Local & Community Development Programme we are giving greater focus to working with the estate residents associations. Through strengthening these groups and building up working relations, families and residents can be made more aware of services and programmes that may be of benefit to them.
Working in collaboration with Kerry County Council training for Residents Associations was ran for various estates starting late 2011 and continuing in 2012. SKDP has been working over the past few years with residents associations in Iveragh Park and Bansha (Killorglin) and more recently with Fertha Drive (Caherciveen), Ard Aoibhean (Waterville) as well as Tuarin Lnn (Milltown).
Groups have participated in short training courses in committee skills, roles of officers and developing plans, with funding provided by Kerry County Council Housing Dept. Through this work with the residents associations SKDP can advise groups of SKDP programmes relevant to their estates, grants and supports available to them etc.
Arising from the training groups have identified further needs or have begun developing their plans further. For example; improving financial management, website training and training to develop estate enhancement plans. Working closely with the resident associations provides an opportunity to make groups aware of supports such as Kerry Education Service Community Education Programme and Leader/ RDP funding for community projects.
South Kerry Development Partnership’s commitment to addressing social exclusion experienced by children with a disability goes back a few years to when we initiated and led the Child Well-Being programme. This was an interagency collaboration to research the needs of children and to develop a strategy in response. The report from this project highlighted some of the difficulties faced by parents of children with disabilities in accessing appropriate and timely services for their children.
While the Child Well-Being initiative was wound up in 2010, progress has been made on some of the key areas that this work identified. For example Jigsaw Kerry was established to address mental health issues among teenagers and young people. Kerry County Children’s Services Committee was also established to coordinate services for children.SKDP continues to actively support the work of these initiatives.
It was a natural extension from the Child Well-Being initiative for us to collaborate with DESSA in supporting the roll-out of the Supporting Families Social Inclusion Strategy. The overall Aim of the strategy is to deliver a series of community based supports to families who experience disability enabling them have equal access to community supports and services.
Working in partnership with other organisations is a key aspect of the work of SKDP. While 2011 was a pilot year for the strategy in the Killorglin area, the project has expanded in 2012 to include agencies such as HSE and Kerry Education Service, and the Family Resource Centres of Caherciveen and Ballyspillane. Sometimes this work might not be very visible, but all the organisations just mentioned are quietly meeting each week across a range of initiatives to address social exclusion and disadvantage in our towns, villages and rural areas. The effective collaboration between organisations brings about better use of resources and better outcomes for the children and families we aim to support.
As well as expanding the programme to offer the Empowering Parents Programme in other areas, an important development this year is the Train The Trainer Course which will train staff and volunteers within local organisations to continue delivering Empowering Parents thereby making the strategy more sustainable.
At the launch of the strategy in June 2012 Kathleen Lynch, Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older People presented certificates to parents who had completed the Empowering Parents Programme 2011 and to staff and volunteers from projects and services who had completed the FETAC Module in Community Development & Advocacy.
Children with a disability have no voice, they depend on all of us to continue to play our part to improve the services they need and to ensure greater inclusion in education, services and local organisations.
Child Well-Being Report 2008 (full version)
The partnership has supported the work of this project since the first Programme Refugees arrived from Kosovo in 2000. This initiative was led by the three main churches in Killarney; Catholic, Church of Ireland and Methodist. Over the years the project has secured funding from the European Refugee Fund which it has used to rent premises, employ staff and run the drop-in centre and programmes.
KASI drop-in centre is in the heart of Killarney town in Beech Row and provides information, support and activities for the children and families of asylum seekers living in the two direct provision hostels in the town.
Kerry has the second highest placement of asylum seekers in the country and this has resulted in many women, children and male asylum seekers being placed up to five years in direct provision. The project addresses the isolation, exclusion and some of the negative consequences of long-term residence in direct-provision. Recent studies also suggest that the current economic situation has exacerbated negative perceptions of asylum seekers in the community.
KASI also runs a second-hand shop to help raise funds and a community garden project in Ballycasheen. These activities also provide an outlet for asylum seekers to get involved and to meet with other people.
SKDP secured the initial funds from the European Refugee Fund which has enabled the project to provide the drop-in centre, employ a coordinator and run a programme of activities. Another key partner and funder in this project is the HSE. Through its Community Dept funding an outreach worker is employed who visits families and individuals in the hostels to ensure they are aware of what the project has to offer. Outreach is an important aspect to the project as residents living in direct provision long term can become depressed and withdrawn.
SKDP has been very active in supporting the development of the project over the years through grant-funding, membership of the board, support and advice, as well as staff support. The partnership is assisting the project prepare for the next round of EU funding which will have an emphasis on broader integration.
This initiative trains and prepares people who may have experienced discrimination to deliver equality awareness workshops to public agencies, community organizations etc. Discrimination and inequality continue to be experienced by Travellers, People with a Disability, members of the Gay & Lesbian Community, Migrant Workers etc.
Through the Equality Ambassador Programme participants are trained and assisted to deliver a short presentation on their experience of discrimination or inequality to an invited group of representatives of public services and community organizations. To date three programmes have been run, two in Tralee and one in Killarney. SKDP was the lead partner for the 2011 programme in Killarney. A steering group including Kerry Education Service, Kerry Traveller Development Programme and Ciarrai Amach (Gay & Lesbian network in the county) manage the programme. SKDP continues to lead the programme for the South Kerry/ Killarney area, and is keen to support the further development of this important initiative. KES Community Education Programme provides the costs of the tutor, SKDP grant covers various support costs, and a grant from the Community Foundation of Ireland also covers various costs.
In February 2012 ten of the participants gave individual presentations on their personal stories to an audience from local state services and community groups in the Dromhall Hotel, Killarney. The programme gave the individuals an opportunity to organise their thoughts, and the support and advice on how to stand up and give their presentations, which given the personal nature of the experience, can be quite challenging.
In May 2012 the steering group convened a consultation event with previous programme participants to agree the next phase of the programme. Arising from this it was decided to record people’s stories onto MP3 format and make it available through the internet, and to organise further training and development in the areas of understanding equality further, facilitation and presentation skills. This training is scheduled to be run Autumn 2012 in Killarney.
Promoting equality awareness training workshops to agencies and organizations is a key objective of the programme. The steering group is preparing the participants to deliver this training and is making arrangements with potential organizations to host the workshops for their staff and members. We believe the personal story, presented by the individuals themselves can make a great impact on those involved in providing public services, community projects etc as we strive towards a more inclusive and equal Ireland.
Part of the role of the partnership is to support the participation of communities and their organisations in local development structures. The community forum is the representative and democratic structure for the community and voluntary sector – this is how the voice of the community is heard. It is a forum for discussion, an opportunity for networking and the sharing of good practice.
All groups on the county register of community and voluntary groups are automatically members of the forum and are invited to attend local area forum meetings which are held 3-4 times each year. As well as providing opportunities for networking, exchange of information etc the forum plays a very important role in facilitating the elections of community representatives onto both the Partnership Board and onto the County Community & Voluntary Forum. These election meetings are normally held each September and groups eligible to take part are informed of vacancies and offered the opportunity to nominate a representative.
The SKDP area is divided into 4 sub-areas, namely Greater Killarney, Greater Kenmare, Mid-Kerry and Iveragh. Each area appoints two representatives from the election meetings as Community Directors on the partnership board. This is called the Community Pillar and is a key element of the Board of SKDP. Community groups are also given the chance through forum meetings to nominate representatives onto partnership working groups.
The county register is becoming increasingly important, and the partnership strongly encourages community groups to renew their registration annually. SKDP, North & East Kerry Development and Kerry County Community & Voluntary Forum cooperate together in the sharing of the county register, and in the working of the forum through an agreed terms of reference (link).