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volunteering today A community planning meeting held by volunteers in Borrisokane, Co Tipperary, in October. The volunteers were supported by their local development company under LCDP goal 4.

When a town loses its main community project...

Having seen the unexpected closure of their local community development Group, two volunteers in Borrisokane are back to old-style community action in an effort to get lost services back into the town.

By Catriona Lennon and Miriam Lewis *,

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n July of this year, Miriam and I decided to try to do something about our town of Borrisokane in Tipperary. Five years ago, the town lost its development project, Borrisokane Area Network Development, whose contract was withdrawn by Pobal following issues identified through an audit process. The town lost five staff and was left with no support or services – we lost our childcare, jobs club, women’s and men’s groups and youth groups to name but a few. After asking a lot of people in the town, particularly school mothers, everyone said they wanted services like the jobs club, after-school club and crèche back. They said a good service to start up first would be short courses for adults to take place during school hours. As they say, if you want something done, do it yourself. We brainstormed over a lot of coffee in the local cafe, The Country Kitchen. We made plans to do further research and get in contact with people who would know how to get these ideas off the ground. We started talking to previous members of the company who provided the services in the town and we were given a few names of people to talk to, and that is what we did. After all our hard work researching and gaining contacts with different people, we approached North Tipperary LEADER Partnership. A community development worker there, Gearóid Fitzgibbon, gave us a lot of support and advice, and has guided us along this journey. He suggested and facilitated meetings in our local hall to gauge the level of interest in what we were looking to provide. After a poor show on the first night, the meeting attendance has increased steadily. 

Main Street, Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary (place into the photo)

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n the local primary school we handed out expressions of interest forms, to gauge the level of demand for an after-school club and a dropin centre to allow parents attend computer classes. The principal,, Ms. King of Scoil Mhuire, has been very helpful and has supported us with the donation of a computer. Parents have donated books and toys to help get us established and we currently have 28 children looking to start the after-school club. The pair of us have been Garda vetted and we’ve organised for volunteers willing to help out as supervisors to attend child protection courses. The computer classes promised to mothers and fathers at the school gate have become a reality. The classes are being facilitated by Liz Flannery of the Life Long Learning Centre, Nenagh, in conjunction with Matthew Carr, principal of Borrisokane Community School. One of the group is a cineophile,

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and he has got help from nearby Cloughjordan Cine Club in showing the French film ‘Amélie’ in the Clarke Memorial Hall – a cinema that has not been used for over 40 years! Actor Martin Sheehan is from here and you never know, we might get him involved yet! Our original intention was to enhance work being doing by the 30 or so sports and community organisations in the town, and make greater use of existing local facilities. North Tipperary LEADER Partnership is currently funding us to do a small needs analysis for the town and workplan for the group, as well as some training for the volunteers to run the afterschools service. What started as ‘wouldn’t it be great if…’ is becoming a reality! And it’s only the start! * Catriona and Miriam are volunteers with Borrisokane Community Group.

VOLUNTEER… to experiment!

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