In 2003, Dublin Bus set up the Dublin Bus Community Support Partnership (CSP) scheme as a way of recognising the valuable work carried out by charities and voluntary organisations within the Dublin Bus network area. More than 1,000 organisations over the past eight years have benefited from funding under this scheme.
Groups can apply under the headings of children, sport, people with disabilities, older people, environment and local community and education. Entrants must submit proposals which are independently judged by an adjudicating panel. This year, the awards take place on September 22 where the winners will receive awards of €1,000, ¤2,000 or €5,000.
We spoke to three of last year's €5,000 awards winners about how the award impacted on their organisations.
Rothar was founded in Phibsborough in 2008 to promote environmental awareness by recycling old and discarded bicycles. They combine this aim with training disadvantaged young people in how to maintain and repair bicycles. The objective of the programme is to instil a sense of responsibility and ownership into these young people and give them an improved work ethic. The award was made to Rothar so they could provide maintenance courses in the city centre, Phibsborough, Cabra and Ballymun.
Anne Bedos is the General Manager of the organisation and explains what winning €5,000 meant to Rothar and how the money was put to good use.
"The impact of winning the award was huge for us," she says. "As we are a 'not for profit' organisation, it meant that we were able to fulfil our social charter. We did this by training five groups of youths in mechanics."
Rothar are now exploring the exciting possibility of having the programme accredited for young people, which would be a step towards their new involvement in education.
Anne also believes the award boosted Rothar's visibility within the community and gave them an opportunity to get their message across in a way they hadn't been able to do previously.
"People were aware of us beforehand but they became much more aware of us after we won the award. The resulting publicity meant that they became much more informed about what we do and why we do it. I would like to pass on my thanks to Dublin Bus for setting up this programme. It has been of enormous benefit to us. We were thrilled to win it."
SUMMER STREET NORTH RESIDENTS COMMITTEE
What do you do with a 16sqm area in the city centre that for 30 years had been used as a dumping ground? The answer is simple. Get some volunteers together and transform the dump into a fully functioning community garden. This is exactly what the Summer Street North Residents Committee in the city centre did. Not only that, but they also made a documentary of their efforts and sent it to the CSP requesting to be nominated for an award of €2,000.
"You can imagine our surprise when they awarded us €5,000 instead. They must have been really impressed by our documentary skills," laughs Garvan Gallagher (above), who was Chairman of the Committee last year. "The great thing about winning the award was that we were able to implement a sustainable watering solution for the garden so that everyone in the community could avail of what the garden has to offer. We grow flowers and vegetables and people help out whenever they can. It's a wonderful way to promote community involvement."
Before the downturn in the economy the Dublin City Council were able to provide hanging baskets with a system for regular watering. With the cutbacks these facilities were one of the first things to go.
"Winning the award meant that not only did we get our watering system but we were also able to buy some trees, hanging baskets, ornate poles and street lighting. We were also able to do something about our litter problem. People around here are very proud of that."
Garvan explains that they did get some funding initially from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government through their Agenda 21 project.
"This funding had dried up so you can imagine what winning the CSP award meant to us. We have been able to continue with on-going maintenance so it was definitely a real lifeline."
WILLOWS FOOTBALL CLUB
The motto of Willows Football Club is, "When you help others, you become powerful and when others use what they have learned from you, your effect in the world is greatly magnified".
As a result of winning €5,000 in last year's CSP awards, Willow Football Club ensured they were able to continue to uphold their motto.
"Like many other organisations, we are run on a voluntary basis, so to win a sum like this was going to make a huge difference," says Dermot Smith (below left), secretary of the club.
The club, which is based in Finglas, was founded in 1988 and has 350 members and 17 teams. Willows draws most of its players from the Finglas, Ballymun and Glasnevin areas. The club strives to help people of all ages and abilities to interact and build their self-esteem through the sport of football. The funding was awarded so that they could purchase equipment to allow the club to grow further.
"We have children as young as six years of age here and it was just great to be able to provide them with a new club kit for them to take pride in and, most importantly, it also meant that we were able to buy new gym equipment which was badly needed for training," says Dermot.
These days it's hard to get funding and to keep pressing the community for donations when money is tight, so the award couldn't have come at a better time for the club. Dermot adds: "Winning this award meant a huge amount. We are a low-key group -- just into our football -- but we really appreciated it and what it enabled us to do."