BY AISLING MEATH
Participants are being sought for a Clonakilty course which is designed to support people going through emotionally tough times, to train and find work or progress to further education
A Clonakilty run training course is giving people with emotional difficulties or other challenges a stepping stone to employment and education.
The Focus programme is an HSE funded recovery-focused structural rehabilitation-training programme delivered by the National Learning Network, a specialist training provider.
Past participants have gone on to UCC and the West Cork Campus in Skibbereen and recruitment is now open to those over 18 for the 12 month course beginning on October 1st.
Focus is a full -time structured course, while also being flexible to individual’s needs and it covers modules in the four approaches of personal development: community integration, physical and mental well-being and vocational orientation.
Fiona Brennan manager of the course explained: ‘The primary aim of the Focus programme is to provide a supportive training environment in which people will learn the skills which will enable them to value social engagement and encourage empowerment and self-advocacy. This helps people to learn how to develop their personal and social needs and maintain good health by establishing a routine.’
She continued: ‘The programme does not offer a therapeutic service per se. Training is our remit and in aiming to deliver that, the programme promotes a person centered philosophy by supporting people to develop skills and manage the transition to the next stage which might be progression onto further training education or a job.’
The course has participants of all ages. Lee Cole one of the instructors explained: ‘The group works well with a mix of people and to have different perspectives really helps people to gain the most from discussions and classes.’
Lee continued: ‘The programme is for people who suffer mental health issues but not exclusively diagnosed conditions. We are open to people who may have anxiety issues or are going through very stressful situations and may need help and support.
‘They may have suffered grief in their lives or be out of work due to a number of reasons and feel that they are isolated from society and their communities. There are many reasons people may find themselves going through tough times mentally and need guidance and support.
‘We work in a person centered way with each of the course participants and there is a focus on group work and working on each individual’s goals. We have a high success rate in getting the students outcomes that they find themselves. This year we have students going on to UCC, West Cork Campus, employment and other socially positive outcomes’ said Lee.
Along with Lee, the Focus programme is delivered by a team consisting of instructors Elva Barron and a rehabilitation officer Toufik Messabih with the support of NALA area manager Fiona Brennan.
Together they deliver a wide range of subjects and activities including art, fitness, healthy lifestyle advice, relaxation techniques, yoga, computers, cookery, health and safety, manual handling and fire safety.
Kenneth Lawlor is a writer currently working on his collection of short stories. He participated in the programme and found it hugely beneficial.
‘Focus helped me bring my life with me’ he said. ‘Writing can be very isolating and you get caught up in your own world. The programme helped me to establish a better routine where I can get my writing done in the mornings and carry on with the rest of the things I need to do in the afternoons. It was a great support in getting a structure in my life.’
One of the activities organized through Focus was building a boat at the ‘Meitheal Mara’ community boatyard at Crosses Green in Cork city.
Meitheal Mara, whose name was inspired by a comment made by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, offers work and training in the skills of traditional boatbuilding, woodworking and rowing to promote social participation and personal development. Their courses are tailored to suit the various needs, abilities and time scales of young people and adults through to retirement and beyond.
Participants from the Focus programme took part in building and launching of a boat and Kennneth says that they felt a great sense of achievement when it was finally on the water.
‘It was great to have something tangible that you helped create with your own hands’ he said
Participants of the Focus programme have the option of completing FETAC /QQI Level 3 and the core elements of the training programme remain focused on personal development.
The programme runs from 9am-3.30pm each day with 24 days holiday as well as bank and public holidays. The Focus programme is free and participants will receive €31.80 in expenses and are also entitled to retain whatever social welfare payments they may be receiving.
For people wishing to apply there is no formal application but there is an initial meeting with the team to discuss their different needs.
Fiona concluded: ‘Experience has shown that this is so valuable to the work that we strive to do.
‘It supplements the rehabilitative training no end and we encourage anyone who might be interested in the Focus programme to get in touch for an initial chat.’
• For more information contact: Lee or Elva on 087-2316919