#SupportLocal: Work plan revaluation for Women’s Networks

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By Maurice Garvey

COVID-19 generated a work plan revaluation for The National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks (NCCWN), who plan to implement blended learning with online programmes and limited group access meetings.

NCCWN, a national women’s community that represents and works directly with women experiencing disadvantage through 17 women’s community development projects, with 46 staff, throughout Ireland. 

National Collective Women 1

NCCWN National & Dublin Regional STEPS Staff Members & Funders

During the pandemic, the network developed a national survey to find out the current impact and needs of women throughout Ireland.

It discovered women’s well-being and mental health as one of the key areas of work for local projects going forward.

The aim is to continue to run social media training, and numerous other social support training programmes.

Established in 2002, the network is currently core funded by the Department of Justice and Equality. 

NCCWN projects recognise disadvantage in relation to women’s socio-economic circumstances. Marginalised women are identified through outreach, consultation, local statistics and information. 

In the 17 projects, this has resulted in the additional employment of approximately 200 people.

In the Dublin area, there are 28 staff members.

Services and supports include childcare centres, drop-in/information centres and affordable accessible counselling.

Their main activities include community development, training supports for education and development, awareness-raising on gender-based violence and promotion of women’s equality.

Members attribute it’s success to the women who participate in community programmes.

The ongoing health crisis has created challenges for members.

Most of their community spaces are small and women participants from disadvantaged backgrounds find it difficult to access wifi and social media.

Challenges when considering reopening include having enough PPE on hand, ensuring staff and participants are kept safe, if funding will be affected, class sizes, and vulnerable members with underlying conditions.

Some of the networks’ women at ‘most at risk’ are also vulnerable to domestic violence, cases of which have risen nationally during Covid-19.

Looking ahead, the 17 women’s projects have rallied together to support one another, setting up a WhatsApp questionnaire to generate feedback.

Ultimately, the group say they are “open to new ways of working during this uncertain time” and encourage services to “stay connected with your clients or participants, through different communication methods.”

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