Last week saw Acorn marking 10 years since its foundation with a special celebration at the project’s offices at Lenna Aoibhinn, near St Michael’s Road in Longford town.
At the event, Frank Horne, the Community Enterprise Development Officer for Longford County Council, recalled the chain of events which led to its establishment.
“Approximately 13 years ago, I was approached and asked did I think Longford had any need for a Community Development Project,” he said. “I told Nuala, the agency person, to talk to CE participants and supervisers. The feedback was a definite yes; the rest is history.”
This resulted in the establishment of Acorn in 2004, and all involved in the management of the project underwent extensive training.
“Acorn’s early focus was on supporting marginalised men,” Mr Horne explained. “It also looked at creating services for primary school children. The group employed a full-time co-ordinator and an administrator, and ran a drop-in centre for a wide range of people in the community.”
Mr Horne went on to say that, “We were very lucky to get great staff in Joe Stroker as co-ordinator, and Ann Maher as administrator. Later, Peter Masterson joined as a part-time worker. There have been too many volunteers and CE participants to mention, who all made a great contribition to Acorn.”
In recent years, Community Development Programmes were wound down across the country, and Acorn’s staff transferred to Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL), although the organisation still exists.
“We were fortunate to enjoy an excellent working relationship with Adrian Greene and his team at LCRL, and the transfer of undertakings was as easy as it could be,” Mr Horne continued.
“The board of Acorn decided to keep the company going in a new format. Acorn still supports marignalised men, and supports the running of the Community Bus with the Community Garda unit and RAPID.
“It also supports a number of positive mental health projects, including a counselling service.
Mr Horne added: “Acorn was involved in supporting those living in the direct provision hostel when it was in Longford, and we supported an extensive street soccer programme under the direction of the very capable feet of Antem Roland. I believe some of those involved made it to the Street Soccer World Cup.
“Acorn has run family support programmes, English classes, after school clubs, teen support programmes, women’s and men’s groups, and counselling services that are ongoing which support individuals with addiction issues.”