Empowering Communities Kings Island Project with PAUL Partnership is aiming to help ‘make magic happen’ in the local community
Empowering Communities Kings Island Project with PAUL Partnership is aiming to help ‘make magic happen’ by harnessing the pride and power of the local community
‘Empowering Communities’ Kings Island project works with local community and existing groups, agencies, and schools to develop, support, and implement locally-led community projects.
Empowering Communities is a government-led program which is based in Limerick City and is housed within the suite of services offered by PAUL Partnership. Limerick is only one of 14 areas to have the Empowering Communities project across the country.
Empowering Communities, Kings Island has a strengths-based approach where the project’s initiatives are community led. Empowering Communities liaises with existing groups, agencies, schools and stakeholders to develop, support, and implement locally-led community projects in areas such as art, culture, local history, sports, social activities, environment, play and recreation, biodiversity and so on.
Mary Hughes, Kings Island Community Engagement Worker with PAUL Partnership said, “The aim is to promote leadership and community spirit and to enhance the things that happen within communities, look at the assets within the community, and to make magic happen.”
The Kings Island Community Engagement Worker is based in the offices in King’s Island Community Centre, giving the opportunity to work “in the heart” of the community.
Mary told I Love Limerick working in the community, “My office and the empowering communities work out of the community centre here in the heart of Kings Island down here just at the very start of St Mary’s Park it really gives the sense of the beauty of the special area conservation of the historic quarter that we have.”
The project’s foundation lies in the principles of Community Development: empowerment and leadership. Mary emphasised the significance of these principles in Kings Island, where a profound sense of community is deeply ingrained.
She said, “Empowering communities comes from the principles of Community Development which are empowerment, leadership, and I think it is really fundamental down here in Kings Island where there is such a deep-rooted sense of community.”
We are fortunate to have a forum where the community partners can come together to discuss possible ideas and projects in the short, medium and long-term. The group chooses how best to help within the community “very simply by listening to the community”, with many people from the area bringing ideas or concerns to them.
“It’s very much a case of looking at the positives, we explore different ideas and we go for it and we see what barriers we need to break down; who can we bring on board; what Community Partners can we get in who can support us, and we just make the magic happen,” explained Mary.
Much of the work carried out through the Empowering Communities project has been celebrated publicly such as the St Patrick’s Day Parade entry, the car wash, a fishing event the Kings Island LEGO Club, Nollaig na mBan or International Womens Day. There is also a huge amount of subtle work being done in the community. There is a great network of services in the community and we work closely to support the community as a whole.
“There’s so many,” Mary said of the events and projects, she continued, “Our beautiful allotments that won an award recently, we’re just very fortunate. I’m very fortunate to have such an amazing core group of volunteers that come and support everybody’s initiative.”
More recently, the group held an exciting Halloween event which saw them open the doors of Old St Munchin’s Church on Old Church Street, Kings Island, for a thrilling Halloween Experience and hundreds of people came through the doors.
Looking to the future, Mary has big plans and hopes for the community by “actually celebrating what they have here”, she told I Love Limerick, “My future plans are to listen to the community, to keep listening to them, to hear what they fancy doing, to hear how they want to be Innovative.
“To look at the aspects of empowering communities such as biodiversity, to look at sustainability, to look at employability, all of those things and to really enable people to harness what they have here, the magic they have here in their community and bring it to the fore.”