A Ballinasloe town native – Karyn Gavin is the new Community Development Officer with Galway Rural Development (GRD), responsible for ensuring the delivery of GRD’s Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) tackling poverty and social exclusion through local engagement and building partnerships between disadvantaged individuals, community organisations and public sector agencies.
Her work involves supporting community groups by delivering training programmes, governance supports, grants and helping with funding applications. She also identifies skillsets and conduct needs analyses within a community to help them decide what they need to do it and how.
“My main approach is to consult with members of the community and to try organise tailored supports to community groups who have not put structures in place such as electing a committee. Our online training programme has been successful but we are aware that this doesn’t work for everyone, We do facilitate a loan equipment programme to lend out laptops, projectors, go-pros and so on to registered groups and this has been greatly received with gratitude, especially for people working or studying from home. I also collect and share information weekly around online training & supports, and connect with other agencies working in the area to make sure we are giving the help that is needed in the area”, states Karyn.
“The usual way of meeting in local venues had to change due to COVID 19 to speaking on Zoom, which really hinders the development of a sense of community. Although there has been a real focus on trying to bring meetings into the digital age, through our training courses and our linkage with the Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB). So my focus this year will be on trying to help groups to come back together and rebuild themselves” explains Karyn.
Currently focused on registering existing community groups and also, importantly, registering new groups that might be developing. “I hope to identify local needs and plan to carry out a series of community events this year, which will be guided by what are the needs in the area and what supports might be of help based on advice from members of groups”, notes Karyn.
Thus far her project has supported - Care and Repair, Social Services, Youth Projects and Men’s Sheds through SICAP Community grants. A Befriending Project which was rolled out through Ballinasloe Social Services with the help of lovely support from Ballinasloe Meals and Wheels who both coordinated and delivered packs to older and vulnerable members of our community has also been resourced.
“I also am looking forward to working on projects with Ballinasloe Women’s Group, which had to postpone events because of COVID-19. Ballinasloe Care and Repair were also recipients of further financial support having identified fuel poverty in the community as a big problem. The project was successful because of our work with the great team of volunteers from the Care and Repair team. I also had the opportunity to link in with the resident’s committee in St Teresa’s, St Anne’s and St Grellan’s just before Christmas, when we were able to support the committee to run their annual Christmas social event. It was great to witness the fantastic efforts of all these local groups and look forward to working with them again this coming year” she enthuses.
In 2022 I will be giving priority to smaller marginalised groups in the local area and helping community groups to become better able to address issues such as tackling isolation and promoting education and lifelong learning prospects at grass roots level. I will be working to enhance existing strengths within the communities and helping groups to embrace innovation. This is particularly needed with the likely easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the revival of groups that have faced challenging times. I will also be assisting community groups in grant applications, encouraging networking and working with older people’s groups to ensure continued or better access to services, work with New Communities, traveller groups and with disadvantaged youth.
Since starting my position I am very grateful for the support I have received from local agencies, colleagues and community groups. I look forward to 2022 and working alongside community groups and also working in collaboration with various agencies and governing bodies. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org (087) 6217917 Monday – Friday.
Her colleague Marie Finnerty - a Development Officer works with individuals on a one-on-one basis to support their access to vital services. Marie assists with job ready supports such as CV Preparation, Interview Skills and completing application forms and also shares information, advocates for people with other services and refers them on to other organisations. You can contact Marie at email@example.com or phone her on 087 1870689.
Linda Cummins, her other colleague in the Ballinasloe office is the Tús Scheme Supervisor, providing assistance through Tús, a community work placement scheme. Tús placements are with community groups and organisations which provide supports and assist in delivering services within the local community. You can contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone her on 087 368 6347 for further information.
CLICK HERE to read the Latest Ballinasloe News Articles