Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton visited Longford Women’s Link on Thursday last as part of a tour of CE schemes in the region. The Minister saw at first hand the work of Longford Women’s Link and heard from past and present service users about how the centre had changed the course of their lives.. Speaking to the Minister, Louise Lovett CEO of Longford Women’s Link outlined the work of the facility, and highlighted the fact that the centre delivered an integrated model of training and education to women in the locality. The Minister was told how cuts to some income streams had impacted on the services at the centre, especially the Back to Education Training Initiative which has been suspended for the month of January.
Childcare Assistant at Catkins Nursery Marie Keating told the Minister and the assembled dignitaries of how she always wanted to work in childcare but was told at school that “childcare was not a career”. Eventually, she ended up undertaking Fetac Level 5 and 6 in Childcare at Women’s Link and she is due to finish her training this summer.
Veronica Clarke, proprietor of Minard Day Nursery, spoke to the group of how she had starting her training with FAS at 55 years of age. She undertook many courses at Longford Women’s Link and trained in childcare through the centre. Subsequently she went on to set up her own business and today she runs a booming creche catering for 65 children and employing 12 staff.
“I’m loving what I’m doing and it all started with FAS,” she explained.
Minister Burton took a tour of the centre, declaring that she was especially interested in seeing the developments in the garden. She also visited Catkins Nursery where she met with children as well as staff.
Speaking to the Longford Leader afterwards, Minster Burton said that she was tremendously impressed by the work of Longford Women’s Link.
“It seems to me that they have a very rigourous and strong approach to the framework of support that they are creating, both for the community in terms of the services they are providing in terms of education and childcare, but also to the people who participate in Community Employment. I’ve met numerous people this morning who have gone into Community Employment - some have progressed to owning their own businesses, some into employment and some into public services,” the Minister stated.
Minister Burton remained at the centre chatting to Board Members and staff for some time before travelling to Carrick-on-Shannon to visit the offices of the Department of Social Protection.
Listen to the Minister’s full interview with the Longford Leader online at www.longfordleader.ie