By Sean Ryan - 15 January, 2016
The first graduates of the new Respond! course on community and social studies graduated recently in both Dublin and Cork.
The 32 students obtained a new qualification which provides them with a Level 6 Certificate in Community Studies.
The course was designed by housing charity Respond! to explore concepts of community and community development within a social analysis framework and encourage participation within a community setting.
The course blends academic depth and rigour with an opportunity to achieve a deep sense of well-being and personal fulfilment.
The graduates came from a variety of backgrounds with some being unemployed while other graduates worked in organisations such as Crosscare, Volunteer Ireland, the Peter McVerry Trust, Age Action Ireland, the Simon Community and Cork City Council.
Speaking about the course Franciscan priest, Fr Pat Cogan ofm, the founding director of the housing charity said, “What these graduates from this mature learners course are saying to the Government is ‘if you really want the elimination of poverty and the enhancement of local communities you must invest many more resources in those communities’.”
“The Government is doing the exact opposite: these dedicated graduates need to have the parallel financial and social support of the state in their work if their dedication to the growth and well-being of their communities is to be truly successful.”
Fr Cogan added, “Many will use this programme as a springboard into higher level education, and Respond! College is working closely with our partners in higher education, such as UCC, Maynooth, UCD and Waterford IT, to further open access routes.”
“Others will go on to pursue careers in the community and voluntary sector. We know that our students have worked really hard to get here and we hope that they remember their graduation day, as well as their time at Respond! College, with great fondness.”
Due to the success of the certificate in Community Studies it is now being delivered in Waterford as well as Dublin and Cork.
In addition, Respond! College offers a range of other full and part time QQI accredited programmes such as QQI Level 5 Certificates in Health Care Support and Health Service Skills and a CIH Certificate in Housing Practice.
All of these programmes are aimed at those who are either unemployed or working in these areas or looking to work in these areas.