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Building a Shared Future for Communities in the Donegal Border Area

Published on:  26 Nov 2013

Last Friday (15th November), local residents and community representatives came together to celebrate the unveiling of two stone-wall signs created for the entrance to Ard Baithin housing estate in St. Johnston, Co. Donegal. The walls were built as part of a 12 week Volunteering in the Community initiative aimed at providing training and activities for young people who are aged 18-25 and who are unemployed.


The initiative is administered by Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC) and funded by the International Fund for Ireland as part of its Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration Programme, which aims to help the most socially and economically disadvantaged regions in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties of Ireland, working to create the conditions for reconciliation and a long-term shared future.


Over the last two years, Volunteering in the Community has run seven courses in Raphoe, St. Johnston, Lifford, Castlefinn, Stranorlar, Ballyshannon and Pettigo.  During this time, almost 60 young people have completed the 12 week programmes with approximately another 170 completing certain aspects of the training. Participants experienced firsthand the opportunities and benefits of becoming involved in their local community through voluntarism. Participants also learned new skills through a variety of positive life choice activities and training, including opportunities to explore the theme of reconciliation on a cross-community basis.


Training opportunities provided spanned a variety of areas such as information technology, first aid, substance awareness, up-skilling and CV preparation, media skills and cookery.  Participants also took part in outdoor pursuits, worked on community projects and participated in An Gaisce - The President’s Award. As part of the initiative, peace and reconciliation training was provided in collaboration with Tyrone Donegal Partnership.


Dr Caoimhin MacAoidh, Chief Executive Officer, DLDC stated “DLDC is particularly pleased to have been part of this initiative with our project partners the International Fund for Ireland, An Gaisce, Tyrone Donegal Partnership and most importantly the participants and their local communities. The challenges of community development in border villages are considerable. This IFI-funded training and personal development opportunity provided a means for young people to consider themselves as well as their role and positive contribution to their local community. They have distinguished themselves and their families as a result of their activities and personal investment in community”.


Mary Devlin of the International Fund for Ireland stated: “The Fund is committed to the long-term task of breaking down traditional barriers and helping build positive relations and contact between the two main communities on the island of Ireland. We are proud to be associated with Donegal Local Development and the tremendous work they have carried out over the past two years as part of the Volunteering in the Community initiative, which has been tremendously successful in helping to promote greater cross-community links and indeed friendships between participants. We believe the project will continue to have a lasting, long-term impact on reconciliation in the Donegal border area.”


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