‘The impact we have on people’s lives is our measure of success’

Roscommon Women’s Network – a passionate, progressive and positive community organisation

Success, they say, is where preparation and opportunity meet. In 2014, Roscommon experienced an air of social and political change as, at that time, there was a mood of putting people first, a time where many community development projects and social justice programmes were being implemented. In 2014, an opportunity was presented. That opportunity was met by a very prepared women’s network as the Roscommon-based organisation of that name fought against the then existing government-supported community development programme as it manifested itself in the county.  

  The Roscommon Women’s Network (RWN) were opposed to disadvantaged women not being named as a target group within the Government programme and believed that, because the project (RWN) was and still is run by volunteers, that it should remain autonomous.

  Subsequently, it was the women and families who were benefitting from the service that were to bring these issues to political attention and announce their solidarity as supporters of a strong and independent community-driven network. These women and families spoke out and convinced the politicians that the network was self-sufficient and hugely important and beneficial to the people involved within the project. Today’s hugely successful Roscommon Women’s Network is a result of the determination of one community of people to deal with the social problems it faced.

  The Roscommon Women’s Network Community Development Projects support all women in County Roscommon, especially those who are marginalised or disadvantaged. Working in partnership with women throughout the county, they provide many services, training and supports to meet the needs identified by women living in the area.

  Project Coordinator Nora Fahy commented: “The last five years has been a huge period of growth for Roscommon Women’s Network. In 2012, we took on the training centre with funding from FÁS with three full-time course coordinators.

  “After our funding got cut by over 30% since the recession we opened up the Roscommon Women’s Network charity shop, which is a social enterprise ran by twenty volunteers and two youth workers. The proceeds of that project covers the rent for our resource centre. This all happened during a time when we were struggling for survival so I think it’s a great example of community empowerment and drive.”

  The Network’s office in Castlerea acts as a training and counselling facility, resource and information centre and general meeting space. The organisation offers a number of FETAC Level 4 & 5 Courses including Employment Skills and Information Processing. In the next year, a new retail course will also be added to the portfolio of training provided by the group.

  The coming year will show continued exponential success for Roscommon Women’s Network with the establishment of a new stand-alone independent family resource centre.

  Both family and relationship therapy is available in the Network’s offices as well as a general low-cost counsellor. The organisation offers a range of counselling services including addiction counselling, domestic violence counselling, low-cost counselling and listening services. A number of classes and workshops are also available to the community including beginner computer classes, sewing classes, swimming training, creative writing groups and mindfulness classes.

  Ms. Fahy added: “The impact we have on people’s lives is our measure of success. I think that during the Celtic Tiger period we became very materialistic and people became very individualistic. But I think that for sustainable wellbeing of families and communities we can’t only think in terms of economy and put our focus on capitalism and individualism.

  “Of course our economy is important but the social and community element of society is as important as the economic element.”

  The Roscommon’s Women’s Network are holding a Women’s Conference on 10th of November in the new ballroom in the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon. There will be discussions about women’s issues, guest speakers, a raffle, refreshments and a fifteen-minute drama piece to end.

  For further information follow RWN on Facebook/Twitter or phone 094 9621690.