Knockanrawley Resource Centre was abuzz with excitement on Thursday, April 7. Seán McSweeney, Director of the Center welcomed over 80 learners, their biggest number ever, their families and friends to this very special occasion. Seán said that while he was delighted to see more and more men participating in courses, almost 90% of those engaged in learning were female and with this in mind he invited Catherine Sharpe, Chairperson of the voluntary Board of Management, who recently returned to education to share her experience with those present. Catherine’s speech about the challenges and rewards of returning to education was both inspiring and motivating.
The awards presented varied from FETAC Level 3 and Level 5, ECDL and Advanced ECDL. The night was focused around three different programmes, EWM (Equality for Women Measures), KITE (Knockanrawley Information and Training for Employment), and BTEI (Back to Education Initiative).
The first to receive their awards were the EWM group and Mary Bradshaw, the Outreach Worker, was delighted to welcome back the learners who participated in the Truir le Cheile programme. The programme’s aim was to open doors, opportunities and insights to women, enabling them to continue their learning journey on the road to education and potentially employment. The project was funded by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and European Social funding.
There were three partners involved in this project; Knockanrawley Resource Centre, The Three Drives Family FRC (Family Resource Centre) and TRYS (Tipperary Regional Youth Service). We were delighted to have Anna Tuohy Halligan, Community Worker at the Three Drives FRC and Cora Horgan, CEO, TRYS present to congratulate the learners on their wonderful achievements. Overall 94 women engaged in the project and 36 of them completed accredited programmes in modules such as cookery, personal development and computers. Mary acknowledged the support the staff in all three agencies provided to the learners. The project ran over two phases and Mary spoke very highly of Serena McCarthy who came on board for the second phase and it was her commitment and dedication to the project that helped make it the success it was.
Next up was the KITE programme which is funded by FÁS. This is a 40 week return to work/education programme leading to a FETAC Level 4 Major Award in Applied Employment Skills. We were delighted to welcome back the participants for this occasion, and Josephine O’Donnell (KITE Co-ordinator) spoke about the diversity that defined the KITE 2009/2010 group. It was the first group with 20 participants, and within the group there were 4 different nationalities namely, Irish, English, Danish and Mexican, which brought a beautiful rich diversity to the group.
Fifteen learners achieved the Major Award while all other learners achieved minor awards. Three learners continued their learning with Knockanrawley and completed ECDL. The KITE programme aims to get learners back into the work place or further education and almost one year on, five had secured FÁS CE Schemes, three had completed a placement on the Link Scheme, five were in mainstream employment, and one participant progressed to St. Ailbes to undertake Childcare at FETAC Level 5. Josephine acknowledged the support of Donal Kelly (Link Scheme Co-ordinator) who worked with local employers to ensure this opportunity was afforded to the learners. She also acknowledged the valued support the KITE programme received over the years from FÁS and in particular Liam O’Brien who is now enjoying his retirement. Liam’s replacement John Murphy continues to offer his support to the programme and the learners.
Last up to receive their awards were the BTEI learners. BTEI is an initiative of the Department of Education which offers part time further education programmes for young people and adults giving people an opportunity to combine a return to learning with family, work and other responsibilities. It particularly focuses on people who did not complete second level education. In 2010 we offered courses in basic and advanced IT and we piloted our new programme “Catering for Diverse Health” which provided four modules at Level 4 in Catering for Diverse Health, Food & Nutrition, Food Hygiene and Personal Effectiveness. The food hygiene certification was also from EHOA which qualifies people to work in the food handling area. In total sixty three learners benefited form the BTEI funding.
Trish Power who co-ordinated the programme said - “The upgraded kitchen facilities gave us the opportunity for the first time to offer FETAC Level 4 programmes in catering and acknowledged the support received from FÁS in achieving this”. Food and caring were identified as key areas which have the potential for employment even in a recession. Not only did the twelve learners achieve accreditation, they also gained personal awareness of positive nutrition and the ripple effect this had on family and friends.
In 2010 our newly upgraded IT Centre was a hive of activity where we offered courses in all levels of IT from computer literacy (FETAC Level 3) to Advanced ECDL. The majority of those who completed the Level 3 programme had never completed any type of IT training before and this was their first step to becoming IT literate.
It was a testament to the personal growth of four learners, Annette Ryan, Trina Walsh, Betty Perry and Jennifer Roche who on the night stood up and shared their personal learning experiences with us. All four spoke of the support systems available at the Centre, childcare, family therapy and the personal supports that helped to keep them engaged and successfully complete their courses.
In conclusion Seán congratulated all the learners on achieving their certificates and thanked the voluntary Board of Management, tutors and staff for their commitment to providing a first class learning experience for so many learners in Tipperary Town and surrounding areas. He also advised of places available on upcoming courses such as a Men’s Fitness Programme, Computers, General Maintenance/DIY, Positive Parenting, Community Leadership, KITE starting in September, and also in their women’s and men’s groups. The night ended with a well deserved celebration of achievements.