North Leitrim Women’s Centre
North leitrim Women’s Centre are committed to addressing the needs of women through the provision of information, training and education and the development of support services in our Women’s Centre in our local community.
Address: Bee Park Community Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim
Tel: 071 98 56220
Contact: Assumpta Kelly, Project Co-ordinator
Contact: Evelyn Wynne, Office Administrator
Profile of the North Leitrim Women’s Centre Community Development Project
The North Leitrim Women’s Centre addresses the needs of all women over the age of 18 years of age in the North Leitrim, West Cavan and surrounding cross border areas.
Particular target groups within these areas include: women who wish to access training or education in order to return to work, enter the workforce or up-skill within the workforce, women who are or have been victims of domestic violence and women who require support and/or information in order to maximise their opportunities and quality of life within their own communities. Support is also given to people parenting alone within this catchment area.
Background to the establishment of the North Leitrim Women’s Centre
In 1991 a group of women came together to do a personal development course in North Leitrim. Once this was completed it was realised by this group that the needs of women in this area were not being addressed. In response to this the group undertook to complete a piece of research entitled, “A Voice for North Leitrim”, which set out to identify the needs of these rural women along with identifying a suitable strategy to address these gaps in service provision. After considerable training in research techniques, the group then conducted a series of door to door interviews within the North Leitrim area. They asked women to identify what they felt was missing in their own local areas and also what they felt would be of benefit to them.
The findings of this research confirmed that the needs of women in the North Leitrim area were not being met in a number of areas. Access to second chance education and training was not available and training that did exist was not family friendly resulting in the exclusion of women participating. Lack of information and support on issues that affect women was also lacking – i.e. women’s healthcare, benefits and entitlements and local supports that were in place were not known about. The research also found that a large percentage of the women surveyed had been in the home rearing their families for a number of years and were now interested in acquiring new skills and updating skills they already had in order to further their own personal and career development paths. They stated that women centred training and the provision of basic taster courses would be a relevant starting point from which they could begin from to pursue and achieve these goals.
As a result of this research, a core-funding grant was accessed through the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and a number of personal development courses were delivered. The group also began to develop and a voluntary Management Committee was put in place.
In November 1999 a funding proposal to the Programme for Peace and Reconciliation was successful and the first paid workers came on board – a Project Co-ordinator and an Administrator. In July 2002, the Department of Social, Community, and Family Affairs mainstreamed the project as a core-funded project within the Community Development Support Programme. At present, the Women’s Centre is located within a designated space in the Bee Park Community Centre in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim and is being funded through the Community Development Programme by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
Outline of the work being carried out to date
- Provision of a drop-in centre, fully equipped Information Technology training room and a consultation room. These facilities are used by women accessing the centre and are also available for use by local community groups and other training initiatives
- Provision of an Information Service which carries information on women’s health and well being, benefits and entitlements available to women, both locally and regionally, second chance education training courses, local projects and community groups news and information and a notice space for exchange of information and/or ideas. Information is frequently accessed through the Internet on various topics and issues that are of interest and have been requested by women in this area
- Scheduling of a variety of courses and activities for women – e.g. Personal Development training, Information Technology training and Women’s Studies Courses
- Women’s Health Care – the centre assists women in the sourcing of information on women’s health issues – information evenings are conducted on topics of interest i.e. breast cancer and the menopause
- Specialised support and services are available for people parent alone and women who have been victims of domestic violence. A Cancer Support Group is also facilitated through the centre
- International Women’s Day – a yearly event is organised through the centre
- 16 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women – awareness raising of the issue and a yearly event or press release is organised
- Manorhamilton Parent and Toddler Group – this group had been facilitated through the centre in the organisation of events and the accessing of funding e.g. Arts Council funding through Leitrim County Council
- County Leitrim Partnership Women in Decision Making and Leitrim County Council Gender Equality Project – representation on the management committee of this project along with facilitation of the project in the North Leitrim area
- Leitrim County Development Board Project Vision Management – responsible for two designated areas within the County Development Boards 10 Year Strategy
- Peace 2 Programme – delivery of two information technology and career development training projects
- North Leitrim and Sligo Video Project – Taking Liberties – A new Look at Gender Inequality – project management of this project which has resulted in the production of a video by a group of local Leitrim and Sligo women through the Equality for Women Measure from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
- Women’s Regional Policy Forum – representation on this committee
- Cross Border work – exchanges and joint activities with various partnered groups from Northern Ireland facilitated through Cooperation Ireland
- Placement student – facilitation of a placement student from the Department of Humanities, Information Technology College , Sligo each year
- Lobbying at local, regional and national level on topics that directly affect women in our target group
- Representation on the management committees of the following groups:
- N.W.H.B. Regional Planning Committee on Violence Against Women
- WAVES Coalition Group – Violence Against Women
- Rural Lift Transport Initiative
- County Leitrim Women’s Network
- County Leitrim Partnership’s Women’s Development Sub Committee
- NUJG Peace Building Consultative Forum
- County Leitrim Community Forum
Overall Aims of the North Leitrim Women’s Centre
The following are the overall aims and objectives of the North Leitrim Women’s Centre:
- To establish and develop the Women’s Centre as a friendly, open and supportive environment for women in the North Leitrim and surrounding areas through the support and funding received through the Community Development Programme and also to develop as a Community Development Project within the Community Development Programme’s framework locally, regionally and nationally
- To provide information, advocacy and support on a range of issues concerning women and families
- To provide access to training and education for women experiencing disadvantage and marginalisation
- To establish a Women’s Health Care Centre in partnership with the North Western Health Board
- To continue to work in the development of the WAVES Coalition Group and it’s work and to continue to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women
- To continue to work with Leitrim County Development Board
- To promote and facilitate the development of support services for women
- To continue to represent the North Leitrim ‘s Women’s Centre on relevant management committees and groups
- To network with other women’s groups and relevant organisations at local, regional, national and cross-border levels
- To respond to policy issues affecting women and to work with women’s groups and relevant agencies in order to promote change
- To ensure the ongoing development and training of the management group, staff and the project