Representatives from eleven community and voluntary groups, who have a key focus on social inclusion in New Ross District, together with Sandra Walsh, Community Development Officer for the New Ross District with Wexford Local Development, attended the New Ross Community Voice Information Evening at Horse and Hound, Ballinaboola on Thursday last, April 14th.
The aim of the evening was to see if local groups were interested in joining a collective whose aim is to come together to network, build solidarity and promote social justice and equality in the New Ross community and district.
The Community Voice originated in 2006 supported by Wexford Local Development and Wexford County Council. The original Community Voice comprised individuals and groups from New Ross Town. However more recently, Community Voice, with assistance from Wexford Local Development, has gone through a change process and has begun to encourage groups outside New Ross Town to engage and join, with a view to building a strong social inclusion network in the New Ross District.
Community Voice is a collective of community groups from New Ross District, who meet to share information, discuss issues emerging from their groups, and develop actions collaboratively to bring about positive social change and to improve the quality of life of their communities. By joining Community Voice, groups are supported to engage in training and networking opportunities, to build their organisational capacity and understanding of poverty issues with a view to groups proactively participating in decision making arenas and influencing local and national policy.
Aiden Lloyd, from South Dublin Community Platform (SDCP) a coalition of some 40 groups whose focus is social inclusion, gave a presentation on the effects so far of the Putting People First: an action programme for effective local government (2012) subsequently implemented through ‘The Local Government (Reform) Act 2014’. He advised that South Dublin had been designated as a pilot area for PPN and explained how SDCP had secured 3 places on South Dublin PPN Secretariat. He conveyed to the groups that the community sector will need to be creative and take chances in pursuit of social change despite funding cuts and an increase in bureaucracy.
Rosemary Butler from Shelbourne Women’s Group, Ramsgrange advised that at least ten community groups were needed to set up New Ross District Community Voice. She explained the level of commitment required in attending meetings, liaising with SPCs/PPN/local councilors and being prepared to challenge the status quo for the betterment of their local communities.
Four groups signed up there and then and the other eight groups going back to their groups for a mandate and advising by Wednesday 20th April if they wished to register to join Community Voice. Depending on the number of groups who register, the decision will then be made as to the way forward for New Ross District Community Voice; the 11 groups in attendance will be notified on 22nd April accordingly.