Lus Na Gréine, Longford

Longford and Westmeath ETB receives funding to support learners across the region.

SOLAS, the state agency responsible for Further Education and Training (FET), announced €203,000 in funding to Longford and Westmeath ETB, to support marginalised learners to access community education programmes in local communities, through €5 million in national Reach Funding.

The €203,000 funding allocation will support almost 800 learners across the Longford and Westmeath area to access and participate in local community education provision including online learning, literacy and basic skills programmes.

Some of the funded projects include Briste go Nua in St. Hilda’s, Athlone, which is supporting adults with intellectual disabilities to learn the skills of upcycling to create art and recreation pieces for use by the general public. The pieces are located at Athlone Regional Sports Centre, with new projects being created on an on-going basis.

In Mullingar, the Women’s Community Projects has begun a Wellness Programme for their Women’s Group and plans to run additional programmes in the Autumn.  Maureen Murtagh, Development Worker with Women’s Collective Ireland said “The Reach fund has allowed us to run much needed programmes for the local community. Needs were identified for programmes like the New Steps which will allow participants to prepare for returning to work or changing a career; building their confidence and self-esteem, improve their written and verbal communication skills, interview techniques, meet local employers, learn how to use AI to help their job search and much more.”

Maureen added “Our Integration Programme will bring the community together in a relaxed environment; the ‘new Irish’ getting involved in a group project with people from Mullingar. The planned project is to create a booklet showcasing cultural differences, sharing of recipes and traditions from each country, poems and short stories.  None of this would have been possible without the funding we received through Reach.”

Women’s Community Projects, Mullingar.

In Longford, both the Family Resource Centres,  Lus na Gréine in Granard and Bridgeways in Ballymahon have used the REACH fund, under ‘Innovative Green Projects’ to develop community gardens. These outdoor facilities have become a vibrant space for members of the community to meet and learn new skills in a safe and supported environment.  Manager of Lus na Gréine , Eileen Finan had this to say “The REACH fund has empowered Lus na Gréine FRC to overcome educational barriers through the ‘Innovative Green Projects’ initiative. This project has successfully attracted individuals eager to learn in a dynamic environment, integrating conversation and hands-on activities with green spaces and living plants in our new community garden space. Participants have highly praised this approach. We commend this innovative project and extend our gratitude to our funders SOLAS and LWETB”.

Antonine Healy, Director of Further Education and Training, LWETB said “We are delighted to receive €203,000 in funding which will enhance the essential work done by community education providers across Longford and Westmeath. This vital funding will go a long way to support some of the hardest-to-reach people in our local communities. Funding will be used to build a digital infrastructure in our local region and enable us to continue delivering access to learning opportunities for our diverse communities.  I would also like to commend the work of the Community Education Facilitators who on behalf of LWETB work continuously with community groups across Longford and Westmeath”.

Since 2020, thousands of initiatives have received Reach Funding (formerly known as the Mitigating Against Educational Disadvantage Fund) which has helped to empower learners; build digital infrastructures to foster inclusion and support learning the Longford and Westmeath region and across Ireland. It has helped to develop safe learning spaces, the digital divide, build stronger learning communities, and increase the capacity of community education organisations across local communities.