The Rathcoole CREW are building community resilience, developing women in their community and having a great time doing it.
The Programme sponsors the Department for Communities’ Developing Women in the Community (DWC) Programme. It aims to provide women with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to take on roles such as leadership and decision making in their communities.
The Programme Team recently caught up with women from the Rathcoole area to hear about their experiences of the DWC Programme. The programmes are delivered by the Breen Centre who have delivered a pilot project and two follow up projects under Phase Two of the Programme. The group were joined by participants from the pilot project who have now formed their own women’s group – The Rathcoole CREW (Creative, Resilient, Empowered Women).
One of the first participants on the programme said: “I joined after Covid and at the time was in a dark place as I had just lost my Mother. This group has brought back my self-confidence. You come here and there’s laughter and we believe in ourselves and help each other out. It is empowering others, we now believe in ourselves and we’re looking forward and it’s bright.”
Self-confidence and mutual support were common points raised. One participant said: “It has pushed me. I would have been very shy but now I have completed an ILM Level 5 Leadership & Management course and I would never have done something like that before.” Another said: “I’m in the new group. I’ve found that I’m not alone and there are people like me. This programme has been life changing.”
The impact has extended beyond the programme and across the community. A participant said: “We have now started an under 14 girls football team and they’re joining the league in September. As well as the football, we’re teaching them self-defence, they’ve done litter picking in their community and we’re bringing them to the National Stadium for a tour. They train three times a week and I’ve now done six IFA coaching badges. Before this programme I would have sat in the house and had no confidence. This is a great example of the ripple effect coming from this programme.”
The women clearly feel more empowered now to make a difference in Rathcoole. One woman said: “The knowledge that different people bring about how to make changes has given us all a boost to change things. We don’t have a moan about things that aren’t working – we now know who to go and speak to, to do something about it.”
So, what does the future look like for this group? Working together to improve their community was the resounding theme. One of the women said: “My top priority in this community is addressing drug use. I want to talk to users in a one to one setting and ask them for their thoughts and what they think might help them. We need to ask them for their opinions to help us address the issue.”
As we left, one participant summed up how many of the women were feeling: “My kids have seen the huge difference that this programme has made to me. I wouldn’t have gone out before this. But it has been so great to meet people and think that they feel the same way as well.”