Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Galway Communities In United Call to Save Vital Services

Hundreds of people from across Galway City and County joined together in a united call for the restoration of funding for vital community services last Monday 25th June. An Open Day to highlight the crucial work undertaken by Community Employment (CE) schemes throughout the County was held at St Joseph’s Community Centre, Shantalla and attracted unprecedented support from over 30 separate community organisations.

The event took place amid increasing concern for the future of CE as budget cutbacks have wiped out both materials and training grants for projects across the county. Current Cuts to the Community Employment (CE) schemes could result in the loss of essential community support services and up to 1600 jobs.

 According to SIPTU Organiser, Diane Jackson “Hundreds of jobs providing essential services in areas of mental health, meals on wheels, childcare, disability, youth and environmental work are on the line unless there is a change in government policies in relation to CE funding,”

Organisations in attendance included the Galway Peoples Resource Centre, Galway Simon, MS Ireland, Youthreach, Mountbellew District Development, the Tuam and District Mental Health Association, Citizens Information Centres, Galway Rural Development and the Ballinasloe Community Resource Centre.

A wide range of local councillors, TD’s and Senators from across the political spectrum also attended.Current Minister of State for Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon  was left in no doubt about the concerns of all present regarding the future of CE funding and the failure of the government to date to respond to this issue. Workers from all schemes pointed out to public representatives that any plans to curtail participation on CE to just one year would be detrimental to the workers and projects alike and simply unworkable. They also called for the immediate lifting of the current suspension of training for CE workers as this also impacts on the quality of services.

Marie Woolley of the Tuam and District Health Association was anxious to point out that the impact of cuts are hitting some of the most vulnerable people in our society. “Our goal is to help people who need support to live independent lives within their own communities. Our workers assist them with regard to housework, transport, gardening and general maintenance, but now that work is under threat.”

Martina Gavin from Forum Connemara Ltd explained how her organisation had carried out over 185 essential House Repairs for elderly members of the Gaeltacht Connemara community, as just one example of the wide range of community services provided through CE. Explaining why she was attending the Open Day Martina said “We’re very worried about the future. The cuts to the materials grant has hurt us badly and we need those funds restored urgently.”

Marion Scully works as a Supervisor with Claregalway Annaghdown. Her own scheme currently employs 27 workers and 2 supervisors across 21 different projects encompassing a wide range of care, environmental and community projects. She summed up the feelings of all present when she said “We are worried about the impact of these cuts on our jobs, our services and most of all our communities”

Peter Connolly, who is a CE Worker employed by the Shantalla Development Company explained “There are 70 CE schemes across Galway City, County and Connemara employing 1600 workers and 80 supervisors.  All of these jobs are now at risk. So are the essential services they provide”

“We are holding this open day because our communities cannot afford to lose these vital services or jobs. We are calling on all of our public representatives to give their full support for the restoration of funding and protection of services. If we don’t act now it will be too late for many of the schemes in our County”

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