The aims of the St Margaret’s Women’s Group are:
- Building up self-esteem, confidence and capacity
- Generational learning, whereby there is a knock-on effect of parents involved in education who are more likely to actively encourage their children in education
- To impact the community as well as the individuals
- Gaining confidence and knowledge to get involved in issues that affect the wider community
The regular course provides a broad range of basic and community skills to women over the age of 17 on St. Margaret’s site. The course acts as a foundation upon which more specific and employment-related skills can be built. Participants are offered training specific to their needs and interests.
The learning modules offered in the LTI are based on the learning needs of the trainees, and many are FETAC accredited. Modules have included computers, literacy, numeracy, self-esteem and confidence building, health and nutrition, art projects, personal development, Traveller Culture and Sport.
The women at St. Margaret’s are participating in a wide range of FETAC modules including; Computer Literacy, Communications, Career Preparation, Personal Effectiveness , Blow Drying Hair, Operating a Dishwasher and the Application of Numbers. As part of the personal effectiveness module an Active Citizenship Programe was develop by the co-coordinator Annette Duffy and students on placement from ITB and NUIM which included information about voting and politics then a trip to the Dáil The women will receive a FETAC Level 3 Minor Award for completing each course. Some of the Women are hoping they will achieve their Major Award this year. The women also take part in many non accredited modules such as creative writing, operation transformation and story sacs. These modules build on what the women learn in their core modules.
The full the leaving Certificate is available at St. Margaret’s L.T.I. However in 2014 nobody was in a position to undertake the Leaving Certificate. In 2013 three women in St. Margaret’s in sat their Leaving Certificate. during their Leaving Certificate the girls gave a talk for Humanities Week at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown along with the Coordinator of St. Margaret’s about Traveller culture and Travellers in education. It went really well and the students at ITB were extremely interested in what the girls had to say.They studied English, Maths, Business, History, Geography, Art and Religion. One woman is now attending Coláiste Ide studying Healthcare FETAC Level 5 and is hoping to continue to FETAC level 6.
Literacy and Numeracy
Literacy and numeracy classes are also provided regularly at St. Margaret’s to help improve the women’s reading, writing and numeracy skills. St. Margaret’s are very grateful to the CDETB, volunteers from V.D.P. in Trinity University of Dublin, D.C.U., Students on Placement from ITB and NUIM and also Ita for their help in providing these classes.
The women have been taking part in a Development Education Module over the last three months. A speaker from L.A.S.C. (Latin American Solidarity Centre) came into the women for 8 weeks to discuss issues in Latin America. The women got the chance to learn interesting facts about Latin America while carrying out fun activities. The women also learned how issues in Latin America can have an effect on us here in Ireland and things we can all do to have a positive effect on the issues going on around the world. In April 2014, a women from Columbia came to tell the women about her life and the hardship she endures, The women were shocked to hear her story. The women only spoken Spanish so everything she said was translated so the girls could understand. In 2013, The women also had a speaker in to talk about Africa, again the women learned interesting facts about life in Africa, the culture, food and way of life for people living in Africa with a special focus on what it is like being a woman living in Africa.
The women have got to enjoy some day trips out and recently we visited Irish Aid in the city centre to learn a little about the work they do. We hope to continue to learn about development issues from both around the world and Ireland over the next few months.
In October 2011 three women from Tanzania came to visit St. Margaret’s training centre. This wasn’t there first time to come to the centre as they have visited us once before in 2010. They came with lots of stories to tell us about their work in Tanzania and how they have their own centre set up to help women to read and write. The women from St. Margaret’s gave the three visitors an insight into what goes on in the Traveller community. Ann Mc Donnell gave a brief presentation about Travellers culture. Moll and Rosaleen from the primary health care group showed the women how to make paper flowers and in return the tanzanian women did a dance and sang a song. As the morning was coming to an end the Tanzanian women kindly gave the women of St margarets a colourful shawl. It was an interesting enjoyable morning for all.
The women attend a weekly sports class at the Poppintree Community Sports Centre. The classes the women have been attending are badminton, aerobics, circuit training and more recently thanks to the lovely weather we have been enjoying walking in the local parks.
A Traveller Culture workshop has been running at St. Margaret’s since September thanks to the help of the Reco in Ballymun. The women have worked on various projects throughout the year related to Traveller Culture including sewing pockets, embroidery and a project to make a wedding dress which is now displayed in the B.R.Y.R. (Ballymun regional youth resources) . A collection of the women’s work from throughout the year will be displayed in the Ballymun Shopping Centre for Traveller Pride Week starting on 13th May 2013.
We have enjoyed some great days out every year at St. Margaret’s including a day out to Dublin Castle where we had the chance to learn some very interesting facts about Dublin’s history, we also visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a beautiful Cathedral in the city centre built in honour of St. Patrick. In March 2014 we went to the beauty show in the R.D.S. This was part of the girls blow-drying module. We also are hoping to visit the Dáil in the next few weeks.As part of an active citizenship class the placement students are working on with the girls.
The women in St Margaret’s did a pocket sewing course which lasted for 5 weeks. Teresa McDonnell was the tutor for the lesson and she taught it well. The course involved all the women from the LTI programme and the Primary health care group. The women cut out the pockets from black material and added buttons and diamonds to the pockets. Some of the women did some embroidery stitching on their pockets. The Traveller women used these type of pockets years ago for holding their belongings.
In October 2011 we had a student called Jessica who came to St Margaret’s Training Centre for 3 Months placement. When Jessica came to the centre she told us she had done a beauty course so she completed a 10 week Hair and Beauty workshop. Jessica demonstrated an upstyle on Annalises hair. We also learned how to apply makeup and exfoliate your skin . The women enjoyed doing the beauty course.
The women in St Margarets training centre completed a 10 week gardening course with Maire from GAP. It involved all the women in the group learning about plants and flowers. We learned how to sow seeds, when is the right time of year to plant flowers. The women on St Margarets LTI programme planted flowers in the grotto. Some women didn’t like getting their hands dirty!! It was a fun enjoyable course that we all enjoyed.
In 2001 we employed a Women’s group co-ordinator to develop a Fás funded Local Training Initiative (LTI) for Traveller women from St Margaret’s Park and in the surrounding areas. The LTI runs from September each year through to the end of June.
“When I started the course I could not write my home address or read a letter or a magazine. Three and a half years later I can now read and write much better and don’t get embarrassed anymore. I can read signs and posters and read a letter which is great.
I feel my best achievement to date has been learning to swim. I am very proud of this. I am looking forward to bringing my children swimming in the summer, and helping them. Another success was learning how to use a computer and looking up the Internet. It’s great – it’s a new world at the touch of a button. If hadn’t come onto this course, I would never have been able to do all of these things.” Bridget Maughan 2011
“When I first joined St Margaret’s Women’s Group here in Ballymun, I was very nervous and keen to meet new people at the same time. I then did a Communications course (FETAC level 4) run by the Ballymun Adult Read and Write Scheme. I am really pleased because I learned a lot from it. For example, I learned how to write a letter and how to end a letter. It has brought me a long way.
I also took part in a Train the Trainer course at FETAC level 6. When I was first asked if I was interested in doing the course, I thought it would be too difficult. But, I went along and I felt really welcomed by everyone. The trainer facilitated the course well. I successfully passed. Now I am facilitating ice breakers and activities with the women’s group.” Ann Mc Donnell