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CIT Hincks Centre supports Female Survivors of Domestic Abuse on Employability and Entrepreneurship

CIT Hincks Centre supports Female Survivors of Domestic Abuse on Employability and Entrepreneurship

17 August, 2015

EU project partners from France, Greece, Spain, Romania, Italy, Belgium and CIT gathered in Cork last week for the third transnational meeting for the EU Daphne funded New Start project.  The project aims to develop and deliver life coaching and mentoring sessions on employability and entrepreneurial skills to victims of gender based violence. The implementation activities will be supported by the design of training materials, the enhancement of the skills of mentors and coaches with Train the Trainer sessions and the development of a Transnational Guide for Life Coaching and Mentoring that could be transferred to other organizations. 

The project will focus on two innovative methodologies. On one hand, life coaching will be carried out to improve women's’ self-esteem and self-confidence. On the other, mentoring on entrepreneurship will help the women become independent, develop their managerial skills, and eventually, help them to re-enter the labour market and even to become self-employed and/or undertake entrepreneurial activity. The project began in October 214 and will run until May 2016.  

This is a very timely initiative for Ireland, as Cosc -   the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender based Violence  (DSGBV) are in the final stages of developing a second National Strategy for tackling domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.   A key finding from the consultation phase of the development of the national strategy is that despite the identification of improvements, it is clear that victims of DSGBV do not always meet frontline staff who understands the complexities of DSGBV. The requirement to train individuals working in both statutory and non-statutory organisations to ensure the provision of the best possible service to victims was a key finding in the submissions. Programmes such as “Train the Trainer” were welcomed as a means of upskilling key personnel and achieving consistency of approach nationally. 

Research shows that ending domestic violence, dealing with its legacies and rebuilding lives takes time. There is clearly a need for all women and children who have experienced domestic violence to access a range of supports after separation including:

• refuge and floating support; 

• legal advice and advocacy; 

• short courses on understanding domestic violence; 

• specialist counselling and group work for women and for children;  • skills and confidence building workshops; and 

• workshops and individual support orientated to (re)entering employment.

The New Start project is directly liaising with professional organisations in order to address a number of these requirements with the implementation of the project outputs. Study visits were organised as part of the transnational meeting held in Cork.

The first visit was a meeting with the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Chris O'Leary in City Hall. Partners received a very warm welcome from the Lord Mayor as he spoke of his own background as a community worker and his role in the anti-poverty network in the city, identifying with the work taking place in the New Start project. The group continued their showcase of Cork’s support services with a visit to Dress for Success in Cork whose purpose is to offer long lasting solutions that enable women to break the cycle of poverty. Dress for Success is part of a global movement for change, empowering women to obtain safer and better futures. Dress for Success provides each client with professional attire to secure employment. Besides physically equipping the client with apparel and accessories, their programmes furnish women with a confidence that they carry forever and the knowledge that they can actively define their lives, the direction they take and what success means to them. Carmel O'Keefe, Founder and CEO of Dress for Success gave an inspiring overview of the story and motivation behind setting up the Cork branch as well as a very clear view of the impact of the work of Dress for Success for the women who use the service and the positive effect on the local economy.

A visit to Edel House to meet the manager Colette Foster and Tony O'Riordan, Chief Executive, Good Sheppard Services provided a hard hitting insight in to the needs for these types of services. Edel House is a residential centre for girls, women and children who find themselves homeless by offering accommodation and much needed support. The service offers both emergency and medium term accommodation. The care workers knowledge of available support and resources for vulnerable women and children is first class and they work tirelessly to assist these women and children to return to independent living in the shortest possible timeframe. Here again we saw first-hand the work carried out by the Good Sheppard services in helping the homeless and vulnerable women and children of Cork City. 

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