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LIT Special Purpose Award offers degree level training to Community Health Workers

(L-R) Mary Kenny, National Lead for Traveller Health, HSE, Lisa O’ Rourke-Scott, Department of Applied Social Sciences, LIT, Bridget Mongans, Community Health Worker, Clare Primary health Care Programme, Josephine Fogarty, Co-ordinator of Traveller Health Services, CHO 3, HSE, Margaret Doyle, Community Health Worker, Thurles Primary Health Care Programme, Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences, LIT Jennifer Moran-Stritch, Department of Applied Social Sciences, LIT Special purpose award.

The launch of an evaluation report on a HETAC level 6 LIT Special Purpose Award for two modules: Community Development and Health Advocacy, that was developed to train Community Health Workers working with Traveller communities took place this Thursday, December 1 2016 at Limerick Institute of Technology.

The modules which were at the level of the first year of an undergraduate degree (QQI level 6), were developed in collaboration between Limerick Institute of Technology, the Health Service Executive, Ennis Community Development Project and North Tipperary LEADER Partnership.  The evaluation of the Programme was funded by the HSE.  The modules which made up the award were delivered to trainee community health workers at Ennis CDP and North Tipperary LEADER Partnership.

 Ms. Mary Kenny, National Lead for Traveller Health with the HSE, who launched the report said: “this programme offers opportunities for many who would not normally enter third level, to participate in higher education.”

Ms Josephine Fogarty, Traveller Health Unit Coordinator was happy with the outcome of the report and the development of the Special Purpose Award.  She highlighted the importance of this initiative as it provides recognised accredited training to Community Health Workers to enable them to undertake their role effectively, and it also opens up education doors for them to undertake further study if that is what they would like to do.  She commended the work of the coordinators at Ennis CDP and NTLP, Siobhan O’Connor and Imelda Reidy, who were involved in the development of the two modules and in the co-ordination and delivery of the Training Programme.  

The evaluation findings were presented by Lisa O’Rourke Scott, Research Coordinator of Social Sciences ConneXions at the Department of Applied Social Sciences. The report found that the initiative was extremely successful: all nine participants passed the course successfully. The award can be used as exemptions against subjects in the first year of a degree in social care work, and indeed one of the nine successful participants who graduated with the award is currently enrolled on the degree programme on LITs Ennis campus. 

Ms Jennifer Moran Stritch, Chair of the Traveller Health Unit for the Midwest region, and a lecturer and researcher at LIT commented that this development was a wonderful reflection on the kinds of initiatives that can emerge as a result of partnerships between care agencies and the educational sector.

“This development of the LIT Special Purpose Award has the capacity to open up access to higher education for groups who might not normally have an opportunity to attend.” Explained Ms. Moran Stritch.

The report recommended that additional modules be developed to assist further pathways to higher education and that the Special Purpose Award be offered in other areas of the Country and to other groups who might need community health workers.

Ms Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences at LIT, said in her address at the launch that, “opening opportunities for non-traditional learners to access third level education, means everyone has the same chance to realize their potential. Education is a right, not a privilege”.

Mary Kenny’s concluding remarks at the launch, ‘that intelligence is not the monopoly of any class’ left the audience of community health workers, students, LIT and HSE staff thoroughly inspired by her address.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.