A key enabler of LDC impacts is their integrated nature, their capacity to offer a wraparound, holistic service. Whilst individual service users might present as a jobseeker, they have access to an integrated range of supports including training, childcare, self-employment, mental health, enterprise, recreational and personal development initiatives etc. Communities can access capital, training, capacity-building, advocacy, environmental enhancement, amenity, sports and social enterprise supports based on their own needs and these are offered through an integrated planning process.
In North Kerry, Maura Sheehy was assisted by her Local Development Company, NEWKD, to move from unemployment to self-employment under the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) and the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP). After consolidating her own employment in Maura’s Cottage Flowers, she then successfully applied to NEWKD for a LEADER enterprise grant which enabled her to upgrade and develop land for her flower business. She now collaborates with NEWKD as a host farm under the Kerry Social Farming Project that facilitates the personal development of local people with intellectual disabilities. This programme is also supported by the Rural Social Scheme. Maura’s journey has brought about huge impacts not just in her own life but in the wider community in North Kerry through her participation in five integrated programmes managed by NEWKD.
NEWKD’s integrated approach to community development is also evidenced by Ballyduff’s Coast Road Community Café, a social enterprise which recently received the 2017–2019 Community Vibrancy Recognition Award.
The Café serves fresh food to the local community at its premises but is also a hub of social inclusion and environmental activity. The independent living of less mobile residents is supported by the delivery of several hundred meals per week; volunteers work through Food Cloud, Foodshare Kerry, food retailers and producers to distribute surplus food to local people four nights a week; NEWKD provide Information Services through the Rural Social Scheme and outreach services from their Listowel Jobs Club and Tralee Local Employment Service; NEWKD also provide development supports, capacity-building and training under SICAP and linkages to other agencies such as the weekly Men’s Breakfast morning which links to the Men’s Shed.
Since its opening in 2009, NEWKD has provided the supports to enable the Coast Road Community Café to develop into a centre of excellence for rural social enterprise and community development.