Friday, 23 March 2012

"Second Chance in Life" shows vital role of Community Employment

Turas CE participant John Bowden with Manager Trevor Keogh
Turas CE participants John Bowden, Barry Kellet, Jessica Whelan and David Eustace
CANALCommunitiesTrainingProgramme,Turas, is an education and training initative specifically designed as a response to the needs of stabilised drug users.
Based in the Bluebell industrial estate and offering services to the canal communities of Bluebell, Rialto and Inchicore, it is one of hundreds of Community Employment schemes facing an uncertain future.
The scheme delivers a range of rehabilitation and employment training to its 50 CE participants, including addiction support, vocational education and training, outdoor education and evidence based holistic therapies.
Scheme manager Trevor Keogh expressed deep concern at the upcoming review of CE schemes with its focus on labour market activation,rather than the provision of community services.
He said: “It’s a bean counting exercise. The focus seems to be all about the financial cost of CE, not
the cost in terms of vital service provision, not the opportunity cost to our participants and their communities
of withdrawing our service in the future.“
Trevor pointed to the good work carried out at schemes – such as Turas which in total cater for more
than 1,000 participants across the state.
“Special CE projects are the central plank of the national drug rehabilitation programme, but this point
is nowhere to be seen in the terms of review.”
Trevor also questions how appropriate it is to judge drug rehabilitation services purely in terms of progression
to work.He said: “The wrong measurement is being used. No account is taken of the development and progress of the participants and the rehabilitative context of the work carried out.”
This point is echoed by the participants themselves, such as James. He told Liberty; “I left school at 13, I couldn’t read or write and fell into drug addiction. After one year on this programme I’m reading,writing, doing computers. My own children now see me going to work each week, so it’s helping to set standards for them as well.”
John, another participant, had a similar story to tell. He said: “I left school at 13 withno qualifications. With Turas I began to do FETAC level 3 and 4 in Computers, Maths and English. “We also do a lot of work on relapse prevention which I found very useful in the early days of my recovery because for the first time in my life I was taking responsibility for my actions.”
These themes are repeated time and again by others who have taken part in the scheme. A third participant, David,
summed up his time with Turas as“a second chance in life for me.”It’s hard to believe that invaluable schemes like Turas could be under threat but already the cuts in funding are biting hard.
Trevor Keogh added: “The cuts mean there’s no training allowance, individualised training is impossible now – train the trainer, forklift licence, manual handling – there’s no money for that now”.

The Turas participants are determined to protect their scheme and are joining SIPTU’s campaign
urging the Government to broaden the focus of the terms of the upcoming review of Community Employment.
The campaign is making some progress and to date has secured a commitment for additional short- term funding for schemes in difficulty while the review is under way as well as a guarantee that no scheme will close during the
review period.
More significantly, the Department of Social Protection has now given a commitment that the
campaign will have an input into the review.

No comments:

Post a Comment