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The Social Health and Education Programme (SHEP), a community education and development project established in 1974, proudly celebrated its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at a Graduation ceremony at Clayton Silver Springs Cork, after five decades of dedicating itself to teaching self-care and compassion to communities across Ireland. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/Ilovelimerick The Social Health and Education Programme (SHEP), a community education and development project established in 1974, proudly celebrated its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at a Graduation ceremony at Clayton Silver Springs Cork, after five decades of dedicating itself to teaching self-care and compassion to communities across Ireland. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/Ilovelimerick

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PHOTOS The Social Health and Education Programme (SHEP) celebrates 50 years of in personal development and community empowerment

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The staff of SHEP pictured above as SHEP celebrates 50 years of working in communities across Ireland. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/Ilovelimerick

SHEP proudly celebrates 50 years following five decades of dedicating itself to teaching self-care and compassion to communities across Ireland

SHEP proudly celebrates 50 years following five decades of dedicating itself to teaching self-care and compassion across Ireland
A group of SHEP Graduates with their Certificates in Personal Development. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/Ilovelimerick

The Social Health and Education Programme (SHEP), a community education and development project established in 1974, proudly celebrated its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, following five decades of dedicating itself to teaching self-care and compassion to communities across Ireland. The event marked a significant milestone for SHEP, which has been instrumental in personal development and community empowerment.

The organisation celebrated its 50th anniversary at a Graduation event at the Silver Springs Clayton Hotel in Cork, which saw the SHEP team and service users come together reflecting on what has been an incredible half-century for the organisation as well as look toward the future.

At the event over 150 people took part in a graduation ceremony that not only marks an incredible achievement for SHEP as it celebrates 50 years supporting Irish communities, but also highlights the impact the programme has made on personal development of individuals and supporting local communities.


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Founded in Cork, SHEP is a unique, not-for-profit, community-based training and development organisation with a presence in Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. The organisation’s primary focus is on its innovative training programme based on experiential group work approaches, low-cost counselling, advocacy, and specialist support for community-based organisations. Additionally, SHEP is committed to international partnership, particularly through its support of Sahakarmi Samaj in southwest Nepal.

Jim Sheehan, Director of SHEP has been in the role since 2019 says it is “fantastic” to reach 50 years:

“It’s fantastic. We have fantastic staff and a fantastic team; they mean so much to us, really. I feel proud, I feel privileged. It’s a fantastic organisation to work for. We do great work in the community and we are all very proud of that.”

On Wednesday, June 19, 2024 SHEP celebrated 15 years in Limerick and celebrated at another Graduation event at the Greenhills Hotel. Speaking at the Limerick graduation, Jim noted, “Our courses offer a valuable next step for many. We provide a supportive environment, and our facilitators are dedicated to helping participants apply their learning to benefit their lives and communities.”

SHEP’s journey began in 1974 when a group of teachers, health professionals, and concerned individuals sought to address the long-term effects of health-threatening choices made during childhood and adolescence. From its inception, the Project has utilised participative, experiential education to foster informed and responsible decision-making.

Richard Lynch with graduates Aisling and Elena. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/Ilovelimerick

In 1986, the Cork Social and Health Education Project was established to continue this pioneering work. Over the years, SHEP’s innovative training for teachers evolved into a unique and highly-regarded programme for adults and communities, focusing on personal, social, and health education. This training has empowered adults from diverse backgrounds to develop greater personal awareness, confidence, and capacity to contribute meaningfully to family, community, and society.

Over the 50 years, SHEP has reached a lot of milestones from beginning with the programme as part of Ógra Chorcaí in 1974 to the Establishment of SHEP Earth Aware in 2014.

1986 saw the establishment of the Cork Social and Health Education Project. 1999 saw the founding of Cork Advocacy Service. Both Coiscéim Counselling Service and the commencement of Collaboration with University College Cork (UCC) were announced in 2001.

2007 saw the establishment of International Partnership and in 2013, SHEP saw the commencement of the Reflective Practice Programme. Around this time the Project also embraced Earth Awareness work. The milestones reached since its foundation in 1974 encourage the SHEP team and learners to aim for more as they continue working to improve communities across Cork, Kerry, and Limerick in years to come.

Jim Sheehan, Director of SHEP added. “We are deeply grateful for the tireless efforts, the resilience, and the unwavering dedication of all the many hundreds of people involved over many years in the region to deliver the various programmes that SHEP has supported and who have made SHEP an organisation we are all proud of.”

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Pictures: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

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 ilovelimerick.com 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.