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Going the extra mile for worthy causes

THE Dublin Bus Community Support Programme (CSP), which has helped hundreds of groups across the Greater Dublin area, is now in its seventh year.

Grants of €5,000, €2,000 and €1,000 are awarded under different categories: children, sport, people with disabilities, older people, environment and local community, and education -- in alcohol and drugs awareness, literacy and health.

We spoke to one of last year's winners to see what difference the grant has made to their group and to two nominees from this year about how they hope to use the grant -- the value of which won't be revealed until the awards lunch on September 16 -- in their communities.

2009 WINNER: CANAL COMMUNITIES INTERCULTURAL CENTRE

Last year, the Canal Communities Intercultural Centre was awarded a Dublin Bus CSP Grant of €5,000.

"The centre was started as part of the Canal Community project in 2004 and became independent in 2008," says manager Richard Philips.

"In the canal area there are about twice as many [around 20pc] people from other nationalities as there are in the rest of the country. The aim of the centre was to help the immigrants, asylum seekers and newcomers integrate into the local community.

"We run an English tutoring class once a week, where we match Irish volunteers with people from other nationalities. The classes last about an hour and a half and the tutors and the students seem to really enjoy them. We also run monthly social events.

"Every immigrant community has experienced problems and the story in Ireland has been good overall. But in terms of racist incidents, we do hear about them, and they do happen. It's also difficult to get second-generation immigrants to integrate with the more established community.

"For kids who were born here, or were very young when their parents moved here, they are faced with a dilemma because they identify with their home, but may speak with an Irish accent and see themselves as Irish, too, but might not necessarily be integrated. The danger is allowing a generation to pass without feeling they are integrated or involved. If that happens, parallel societies can develop, which creates lots of problems.

"Being awarded the Dublin Bus CSP grant really meant an awful lot to us. We had put a year into this youth strategy and had a few clear outcomes that we needed to act on. The grant allowed us to act on probably the biggest piece of this. We held a series of full-day training events and follow-up workshops for the local youth organisations. It was very helpful to a lot of the youth workers."

2010 NOMINEE: BALLYOGAN YOUTH PROJECT

Sarah Ludlow is the Manager and Youth Development Officer in the Ballyogan Youth Project. The project has been nominated for a Dublin Bus CSP Grant this year.

"The Youth Project in Ballyogan has been running for about 10 years," says Sarah. "We used to work out of a resource centre but we have had our own centre for almost two years. We call it the White House, and the young people in the area came up with the name.

"The centre is for people in the Ballyogan area. Myself and my colleague, Louise Holian, run the youth project. The Castle Project is also run in the centre. It's a Garda diversion project, which is part-funded by the Justice Department. It's for young people at risk of getting into trouble or those already in trouble. We run activities like arts, adventure sports, active citizenship and drugs and alcohol awareness.

"We work with around 80-100 people every week between both projects and the age group is between 10 and 18. We run a drop-in service where they can have chill-out time. There is a pool table and PlayStation and we have art competitions.

"We applied for the grant for the senior girls' group, for a youth leadership course. The girls are around 17 or 18 and are at the age where they want to be leaders. We are also hoping to set up a youth committee so they can be even more involved. We are hoping to run the course for six weeks and have tutors in. We will be covering issues like non-violent confrontation, life coaching, committee skills and public speaking."

2010 NOMINEE: ROWLAGH WOMEN'S GROUP

Bernadette Beatley, co-ordinator in the Rowlagh Women's Group in Clondalkin, explains what the Dublin Bus grant will mean to them.

"The group was set up in 1988. The group was established to combat isolation for women of all age groups in Clondalkin. When we started out, there were a lot of younger women as it was a new area, but there's an older population now. There was huge unemployment in the area and a lot of the women would have been single mothers.

"We have a variety of programmes at the centre. We have community education and training programmes and classes like art, environmental (gardening and recycling) and healthy eating, which is run with the health initiative programme. We also run DIY programmes and salsa classes, which people with special needs also participate in and really enjoy. We also run an after-school programme for the 10 to 14-year-olds.

"In 2006, research into the needs of older people in the area showed that there was a need for men to be involved as well as women. Isolation is the same problem for men as for women in the area, although it's harder to get them through the door. We applied for the Dublin Bus CSP grant for the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) course that we run for over-50s men. We have about 10 men doing the course and it will run until June next year. These men are looking to get employment at the end of it. There may not be many jobs going at the moment but there will be, and this is the time to be training."


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