Working with individuals and communities, SICAP (Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme) aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality. Since it commenced, its impact on individuals and in communities across South Tipperary cannot be underestimated.
Over the last 12 months alone, South Tipperary Development Company (STDC) through its SICAP programme has supported in excess of 40 communities. As everyone is aware, community and voluntary organisations are operating in a very challenging environment, facing the impacts of rising energy costs and inflation, as well as the continued societal effects of Covid (including the loss of volunteers where some long-standing volunteers stepped down or back from active roles in committees). Many communities have been impacted by depleted reserves resulting in the lack of fundraising opportunities. Challenges in accessing funding can be further exacerbated for groups with digital literacy issues where funding applications need to be made online. In addition, some of our communities are at the frontline in providing services for people fleeing from the war in Ukraine. As Isabel Cambie, CEO of South Tipperary Development explains “Collaboration with other organisations is the cornerstone of our work under SICAP. We work with organisations such as Tipperary PPN; Tipperary Volunteer Centre, the Local Authority and the ETB to name but a few to get the best outcome we can for communities. Additionally, Paddy (one of our Community Development Workers) supports communities on a one-to-one basis. Paddy helps groups with issues such as community planning, governance, opening bank accounts, information about funding sources and helping communities to make applications”. Communities who have benefited from SICAP supports are delighted with the program saying “SICAP has been a lifeline for our community. It has provided us with the resources, guidance, and support we needed to take the next step. We are truly grateful for the positive impact SICAP has made in our community”. Breda Green from Killenaule Senior Citizens Club & Killenaule Women’s Group described all the excellent work being done by STDC in promoting social inclusion and helping and encouraging them to be more actively involved in their local community as well as huge thanks for the grants they have been awarded and all the help and guidance received from their community group contact, Paddy Fitzpatrick. As Breda explains ‘the grants have enabled us to purchase much-needed capital items for use in our groups, which has made a big difference”.
The program also provides support to new communities. One great example is the Ukrainian people living within our communities. Mohammad, Migrant Support Worker with STDC explained that work initially focused on welcoming and helping Ukrainians to settle into their new community (by providing information and linking people to essential services such as health, education, social and community services). Longer-term, the work involves supporting Ukrainians to gain skills such as learning English. One of the ways this is achieved is through the very successful Failte Isteach programmes. Mohammad told us that “Failte Isteach classes continue to run smoothly in Clonmel, Knockanrawley Resource Centre, and Dundrum House Hotel. These language classes play a pivotal role in helping our Ukrainian learners integrate into our community by acquiring language skills and fostering cultural understanding. The dedication of our volunteer tutors remains unwavering, and the enthusiasm of our learners is truly inspiring”. STDC is always looking for volunteers to help with the Failte Isteach lessons.
A number of successful and well-attended community integration events have been held in Fethard, Dundrum, Killenaule and Clonmel (hosted by South Tipperary Development Company). Speaking at a Ukrainian Integration event recently, Kathleen Vickers (Social Inclusion Manager at STDC) said “The reception that communities have provided for the Ukrainian Community is heartening. To see how much effort was put into the events demonstrates to the Ukrainian community that they are welcome in our communities and we hope that new friendships and lasting connections have been made”.
In addition to providing support to communities, SICAP also supports individuals to take up employment or to become self-employed. The program operates in very practical ways; helping those in need to find work or to upskill, assisting individuals to find a suitable personal development course or to access a work placement programme. It aims to point people towards a pathway of opportunities that might otherwise be missed or out of reach. One of their clients, Liam found it so easy to deal with the SICAP team telling us “When I first met Hilary, I felt so at ease talking to her that I was able to reveal my problems with literacy. Within 2 weeks of meeting her I was engaging with the ETB. She was so friendly and helpful.” Liam has since gone on to write his own book (Back of the Class) where he described his struggles and achievements regarding literacy. SICAP Development Officers work on a one-one basis with people who want to return to or take up employment and who qualify for support under SICAP in identifying their needs, skills and interests. The team help clients with career planning by signposting them to relevant training programmes, help with CV and interview preparation. In the last 12 months alone, the SICAP team in South Tipperary Development (STDC) helped over 50 individuals to set up their own business including a hair salon, courier services, holistic therapists and a DIY service.
Liam Cleere, previous SICAP client and community activist pictured here with a copy of his book” From The Back of the Class” with Tús Team Leader Richard. Liam is now a Tús Programme participant in the Commons, Ballingarry.
To find out more about the great work being done under SICAP (such as the work with Community Social Enterprises, work with the Roma and Traveller Community or support for children and families), visit our website, follow our social media pages or call 052 7442652.