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Successful appeal keeps community support in place

EAST Clare Community Support is to remain in place after the community development programme were threatened with closure arising from Government budgetary cuts.
The East Clare group appealed the decision to the CDP Appeals Board last month and disputed the three reasons cited by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs as grounds to shut the facility down.
The department had deemed 30 of the 180 community development programme organisations nationwise as no longer viable and East Clare Community Support was one of 14 organisations to successfully appeal and remain in operation.
However, while the organisation was successful, it now means that it will amalgamate with the other CDPs in Clare – the Clare Women’s Network, Ennis CDP and will now come under the remit of the Clare Local Development Company.
East Clare Community Support (ECCS), which employs one full-time and two part-time CDP staff, services from Killanena to Kilkishen and from Tulla to Whitegate and was established in 2003 by the voluntary management committee, who had campaigned for years to secure a CDP for the people of the region.
Speaking about the good news, ECCS co-ordinator Darina Greene explained that “as with all CDPs, we support people to improve their lives, empower them to articulate their opinions and encourage them to participate in a process of personal and community development. Our organisation takes a holistic approach to involving all the target groups in its work. Our target groups are socially excluded people and include, carers, new communities, unemployed, underemployed, older people, people with disabilities, the LGBT population and isolated rural families”.
ECCS currently deliver a variety of programmes including: Active Age Group, over 60s group, an intergenerational project, parent and child group and East Clare childcare committee, disability making choices group, lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender support group and youth drop in, caring for carers, companion support for isolated people, LETS – Local Exchange and Trading Service, community education and information sessions on rights, entitlements, intercultural supports.
It is envisaged that all of these services will remain in place for 2010, however, it is still unclear what funding for the organisation will be available in 2011.
Ms Greene highlighted how important the services are to the community in Scariff and East Clare and paid special tribute to the local efforts to keep the organisation open.
“The community really rallied around us, the response was inspiring really. We were informed on December 15 that we were to be closed but that we could appeal and had to lodge our intent to appeal by December 18. The appeal was lodged on January 8 and we had to give our appeal presentation on January 15, so we have been in limbo really for the last six weeks so it is a huge relief to know that we will be kept open,” Ms Greene added. 
ECCS is hoping to build on its current standing in the community by amalgamating local services in the area under one roof in a new community hub, which would serve the needs of the area in a one stop shop: youth, information, Brothers of Charity and CDP. They are also hoping to create a lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender rural youth drop-in facility providing age appropriate information, support and a social outlet for 16 to 18 year olds within a youth work context. Furthermore, they are working towards establishing a single parent group and an East Clare fundraising committee, which would collaborate with other organisations in the area.
Speaking about the success of ECCS, local TD Timmy Dooley said, “I’m delighted with this news. It’s a huge boost for everyone involved in East Clare Community Support and all the people of the area. There was huge concern that the group would have to close its doors in light of the revised programme announced at the end of last year.
“We all know how much work everyone involved with East Clare Community Support do. Their work is invaluable. It would have been a big blow to East Clare if they had to close down but I’m glad that I was able to support their appeal and that it was successful in overturning the previous decision,” Deputy Dooley concluded.

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