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South West Mayo — Equality Mainstreaming Initiative

Equality Forum, 21st November 2012 - SWMDC staff with guest speakers John Lonergan, Fionnula Kenny and Edward Power. Castlecourt Hotel, Westport.

Identifying the Need

South West Mayo Development Company is the implementing body for the community work placement programme Tús in south west Mayo. In order to implement the programme SWMDC works in partnership with the community and voluntary groups in the region to identify appropriate community work placements for participants on the Tús scheme.

In running the scheme, SWMDC observed that the majority of community and voluntary groups providing work placement opportunities for Tús participants had no equality policy in place or needed to have their existing policies reviewed and updated in line with best practice.

Getting Started

In response to this observation SWMDC applied for, and was successful in securing, funding from the Equality Authority to develop and deliver a pilot project that has 3 main elements:

  1. To deliver equality awareness training workshops to SWMDC Tús participants.
  2. To support community & voluntary groups within the South West Mayo region hosting Tús participants by providing equality awareness training and to assist them with developing equality policies of their own.
  3. To develop an equality policy toolkit for mainstreaming purposes for the Community and Voluntary sector.

In March 2012, SWMDC established the South West Mayo Equality Mainstreaming Working Group to oversee the project from March – December 2012. The group is made up of representation from Department of Social Protection, FAS, Citizens Information Service and South West Mayo Development Company / Tús participant representatives. The working group met 5 times during the pilot phase. In addition, SWMDC engaged with Equality Specialist, Mr Edward Power Associate to oversee this pilot project.

Project Outputs

  • In May 2012 47 Tús participants participated in training workshops titled ‘Dealing with Discrimination’.
  • In September 2012 three equality policy development workshops were delivered to 17 community and voluntary groups in three locations in South West Mayo.
  • Throughout September and October 2012 one to one consultancy support was given to 40 community & voluntary groups to develop an equality policy specific to their own needs.  As a result of these supports 18 groups developed and implemented equality policies for the first time within their organisation, while a further 22 groups had their existing policy reviewed and updated in line with best practice.
  • Using learning and feedback from these training sessions, input from the equality working group and guided by the equality consultancy team, SWMDC have developed a toolkit titled: ‘Equality Policy Toolkit for the Community and Voluntary Sector’
  • South West Mayo Development Company hosted  a national conference in collaboration with the Equality Mainstreaming Unit on 21st November 2012 on the theme “Impact and Relevance of the Equality Legislation for the Community and Voluntary Sector”. Speakers at the conference included Carole J. Sullivan from the Equality Authority, John Lonergan – former Governor of Mountjoy Prison and Edward Power – Equality and HR consultant.

Positive Evaluations of the Initiative

Carole J Sullivan, Head of Equality Mainstreaming Unit in the Equality Authority stated:

“The response to call for funding opportunity in the Equality Mainstreaming unit was extensive and South West Mayo Development Company were successful due to the uniqueness of  the project, the  relevance and  the project’s ability to raise and address the issue of Equality in the community and Voluntary Sector and in particular in their community work placement programmes.”

South West Mayo Development Equality Working Group agreed that the initiative:

  • Established close working relationships and created opportunities for information sharing with relevant state agencies and partners working as one in the area of Social Inclusion throughout South and West Mayo.
  • Was successful and maximised the strengths and experiences of all staff working across a variety of programmes within the South West Mayo Development Company.
  • Harnessed collaborative working relationships within  all employment and enterprise support programmes  in South West Mayo Development company.
  • Demonstrated that addressing the Equality issue is relevant to coordinators, supervisors and participants of all community work placement programmes under the implementation body of South West Mayo Development company.
  • Raised awareness of Equality issues amongst the Board of Directors and management of the South West Mayo Development Company as promoters of best practice in this area.

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