Having worked overseas in Cambodia for seventeen years Tipperary woman Emer Leahy is now focussed on the challenge of helping those closer to home.
The serious issues of deprivation, marginalisation and social inclusion that afflict Tipperary Town are uppermost in the mind of Emer Leahy who has settled into her job as the manager of the Knockanrawley Resource Centre.
Emer and her team , which amounts to forty five between full time and part time staff, are tasked with identifying the needs of a community that is burdened with a deprivation index of minus eighteen .
Because of that alarmingly low measure Tipperary Town is grappling with a range of difficult social issues and the Knockanrawley centre plays a crucial role in supporting a community to tackle those problems.
The programmes run by Knockanrawley are designed to help people cope with issues such as unemployment, child care, family support, educational support, training and social inclusion all covered.
Emer Leahy said the values of Knockanrawley and the need for it in the community is just as obvious as it was when it was established by the inspirational Sister Joan Madden.
The core services involve child care from one to five years, training and education with support from government departments and ETB, family therapy clinics and counselling .
Emer said the centre was there to support families in crisis and encouraged people to avail of the services and the support that was readily available.
She said specific courses for parent and family support with emphasis on positive parenting were on the Knockanrawley schedule and were set up to support families who f ound themselves dealing with multiple problems.
Originally Knockanrawley was set by to cater for the Pierce Park area and now it provides a service to the whole town and to a wide catchment area.
The Men’s Shed programme , organic garden , the KITE retraining programme were all very important to the centre and had proven to be successful models over the years.
Emer said the centre had developed one of the best family therapy services in the Munster area.
The dedicated family therapy would provide a number of councillors assigned to a family to deal with a range of issues.Once that was availed of people would then move onto group therapy.
There is a waiting list for the service and the centre could do with more councillors to help them cope with the demand for the services.
Their goal is to put in place similar initiatives that will address the needs of people living in the community.
“Tipperary town has one of the worst deprivation indexes in the country and problems like unemployment is very high, there are a high number of lone parents, a high number of children in care , mental health issues, all feed into that all of those issues are very much to the fore in the town and services have to be tailored to meet their specific demands.