COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WORK IN WATERFORD CITY & COUNTY
The Local Community Development Project (LCDP) funding requires that this work is covered under four goals.
LCDP Goal 1:
To promote awareness, knowledge and uptake of a wide range of statutory, voluntary and community services.
WTCDP raises awareness and knowledge of services available to Traveller people.
Drop-in service / advocacy:
The WTCDP runs a drop-in service four days per week. Some of the work being done includes advocacy, support, information giving and making direct contact with state agencies, voluntary and community organisations.
Some of the issues that WTCDP help members of the Travelling community with are applications / registrations, housing & accommodation, education & training and Social Welfare information.
Horses are part of Traveller culture and are an major part of many Traveller men’s lives, so the WTCDP support individuals who have had their horses impounded by the local authority.
The WTCDP support Travellers on accommodation issues.
High demand for advocacy services and lack of literacy skills for many Travellers prevents self advocacy.
LCDP Goal 2:
To increase access to formal and informal educational, recreational and cultural development activities and resources.
WTCDP supports, encourages and provides a variety of training and development courses and programmes.
- Adult literacy: is provided to Traveller Women and Men with thanks to WTCDP and the support of the City of Waterford Adult Literacy Services. There are also computer classes provided.
- Driver theory: is also available for Traveller Women and Men.
- Youth: a number of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 years old attended the Traveller Glee Group. This was led by the Waterford Traveller Community Health project and is supervised by one of the Waterford Traveller Community Health workers.
- County Waterford Traveller Support Group: a number of Traveller Women met on a weekly basis and took part in programmes such as dressmaking, arts & crafts and flower arranging. These were funded & supported by the Co Waterford VEC (now the Waterford Wexford Education Training Board (WWETB).
- Young parents support group : in 2014 a young mother’s group was set up to help support them and give them some time for themselves.
- Events and seminars: Traveller Pride Events which run on an annual basis for two weeks, these events celebrate Travellers and their culture. WTCDP organised and hosted a concert which was run by local Travellers. Singing, dancing, music, art displays and health information are just some of the events on the nights. The night was opened and attended by the Lord Mayor of Waterford City.
- Book Launch: the Traveller Support Group in Dungarvan launched a book “Through the Eyes of a Traveller Woman”.
- Traveller and Roma Regional inclusion Seminar: WTCDP organised and hosted the Traveller and Roma Inclusion Seminar. This was facilitated by Pavee Point. Invitations were sent out to voluntary and statutory agencies in the South East region and there were over 50 participants from various organisations. The WTCDP chairperson, Mary Connors welcomed everyone and the Outreach worker Star Stokes gave a presentation on the work of the WTCDP.
- Others: The WTCDP regularly networks and keeps links with the local Ballybeg CDP, Subla Centre and Traveller Youth Project, which includes updating and exchanging information on various programmes.
LCDP Goal 3:
To increase peoples work readiness and employment prospects.
Employment prospects for Travellers are difficult due to low literacy levels, discrimination from potential employers, and lack of cultural awareness in the employment sectors.
- Student placements: Traveller students who attend Subla Youth Reach receive two weeks work experience as part of their curriculum. Students have be given experience by the WTCDP to support them. This allows the students to work in an environment that understands and supports their culture.
- WIT placement: A second year student worked with the project for three months, this work encourages integration and opens the students mind to Traveller culture.
- Support for Traveller Students: WTCDP supports Traveller students in participating in part time youth and community development course in WIT.
- Horse project: Waterford City Council have proposed they are willing to give land for Traveller horse projects. The Traveller Men’s Health Worker has been actively involved in training for the Traveller men.
- National Traveller Women’s Forum: worked on issues such as Traveller Women’s Education, Domestic Violence Training. WTCDP encourages Traveller women in or seeking employment to participate in the meeting and initiatives.
- Support for individuals seeking training and employment: help is given on a one to one basis in employment application, this includes CV service, access to job vacancies, application forms and information regarding benefits and work.
LCDP Goal 4:
To promote engagement with policy, practice and decision making processes on matters affecting local communities.
Policy work, representation, support of Travellers on local decision-making bodies and involvement in national Traveller issues has been a significant part of WTCDP’s work. These are all through Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point, Mincer Whidden, and the National Traveller Women’s Forum.
The disadvantage and mistrust created by past policies means it is important that Travellers are represented wherever decisions affecting them are made. Many agencies and service providers, at the same time valuing Traveller participation in theory, often do not recognise the social and cultural barriers Travellers face.
However, the County Traveller Interagency Group has been meeting regularly and this is down to the on-going support of individuals in some of the local voluntary and statutory agencies.
- Board of management: The WTCDP Board of Management meetings are held are every 6 to 8 weeks. The finance and employment subgroups meet on a regular basis.
The Irish Traveller Movement supported the WTCDP by providing training and facilitation for the Voluntary Management Board and staff. Members received training on management roles and responsibilities.
- Representation on local and national bodies
Members of the WTCDP board, staff and local Travellers were supported to participate in local and national bodies including:
- Local: Waterford County Traveller Interagency Group, LTACC, Waterford Children’s Services Committee
- National: National Traveller Partnership, Mincer Whidden, National Traveller Women’s Forum,
Irish Traveller Movement, Community Worker Co-ops social inclusion meetings,
National Garda Diversity Consultation
- Protests and marches
The WTCDP was represented by local Travellers at two national protests highlighting poor accommodation and racism.