The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, last week visited two local Community Employment (CE) programmes in Carrick-on-Shannon: the Irish Wheelchair Association and St George’s Heritage and Visitor Centre, St Mary’s Close; and also took the opportunity to meet with staff at the Department offices in the county town.
The CE scheme at the Irish Wheelchair Association provides drivers, a cook, care-taking and programme assistants for the many people who avail of the service. The project at St George’s Heritage and Visitor Centre is part of the overall activity undertaken by the main Community Employment Sponsor, Leitrim Heritage Centre, which has 25 participants who assist with genealogical research, caretaking, sport coaches and administration.
Minister Burton also visited the offices of the Department where some 180 staff are working in Control Policy, Central Prosecution Service, Client Identity Service, Central Overpayments and Debt Management, Maintenance Recovery, Decision Advisory Office, Freedom of Information, Employment Support Schemes and Activation units.
Minister Burton was delighted to see first-hand the benefits of the Department’s Community Services Unit through its employment schemes and programmes. She said: “The Community Services Unit plays a vital role in the provision of work opportunities within the community for those wishing to return to the workforce.”
Community Employment is an employment programme which helps long-term unemployed people return to the workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return-to-work routine. The programme assists them to enhance and develop both their technical and personal skills which can then be used in the workplace.
Officials from the Department of Social Protection have engaged with the Area Based Partnership Company, Leitrim Integrated Development Company, in relation to all employment programme activity in the county for 2013. Minister Burton said that: “This is an on-going process and it ensures that all programmes providers avoid duplication and make the best use of Community Employment, Job Initiative, TÚS and Rural Social Scheme resources within the county to provide support to communities and meaningful work placement to the participants.”
Minister Burton said that the Department of Social Protection is providing funding of some €2.7 million towards Community Employment and in the region of €400,000 towards the Job Initiative Programme for Co Leitrim this year. This, the Minister said, will facilitate 10 projects with some 184 participants, including Supervisors throughout the county.