Making a difference in Mayo
Western passion has locals enjoying their lives
THE LOCAL community hall is often the most underused and unused facility in many localities. These buildings were built by communities in the days when everything was locally based, from entertainment to social services.
The advent of mass home entertainment and the professionalisation of many local services has rendered many of these buildings redundant. The idle hall is often a barometer indicating the health and vibrancy of a community.
If Knockmore Recreation and Resource Centre, located between Castlebar and Ballina in Mayo, is a barometer of the health and life of the local community, then Knockmore is in good shape. On Tuesday mornings, the place is a hive of activity. A busload of older people arrives on the rural transport bus for a day that will include a meal, an activity or two, minor healthcare services, such as chiropody, and a lot of chat. This day out is precious if you spend most of your week alone.
The kitchen is bustling as meals-on-wheels are prepared and a mixture of volunteers and workers get ready to deliver them to the isolated and the housebound around the area.
Managing all this is Brendan Boland, a committed community activist who regards himself as lucky. He gets paid for doing what he is passionate about.
"All this is possible thanks to the Community Services Programme [CSP]," says Brendan, who manages 10 part-time and full-time workers employed under the scheme operated by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.
"Under the programme we offer a range of services and supports to older people and isolated people in the community. We also bring life to community centres such as this great facility in Knockmore, and we improve the quality of life for the whole community."
Brendan says that the CSP benefits the 'givers and the receivers'.