Written Answers. - Community and Voluntary Sector.

John Gormley

Question:

155 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the ways in which his Department assists the training and development of voluntary workers; and if the need for such training differs between urban and rural communities. [3740/03]

My Department assists the training and development of voluntary workers through a range of measures. I welcome the opportunity to outline these to the Deputy and to advise of current developments. The Deputy should note that these schemes do not differentiate between urban and rural communities.

My Department operates a range of once-off grant schemes which concentrate on the provision of support for local self-help groups and community development. These grant schemes are aimed at developing people and their capacity to participate in society.

The community development education and training grants scheme has a specific focus on the training and development of voluntary workers. Under this scheme, funding is provided to local community and voluntary groups towards training and education programmes which strengthen and increase the skills and knowledge of management committees and others active in community and voluntary organisations. The once-off grant schemes for 2003 will be advertised later in the year. In addition, regional support agencies have been contracted by my Department to provide ongoing advice and support to projects in the community development support programmes. In this context, training and development supports are provided to the voluntary management committees of the projects to help them develop the necessary skills associated with running community development projects.

The White Paper on Supporting Voluntary Activity, published in September 2000, recognised the increased need for training and supports for the community and voluntary sector. The White Paper included a commitment by the Government to provide a new funding scheme to develop training and supports within the community and voluntary sector. Training and sup ports to be funded under this scheme include management and organisational development and professional development of staff and volunteers; provision of education and training programmes for staff and volunteers; and specialist assistance in areas such as recruitment and legal incorporation.
The scheme was advertised in 2002 and some 540 applications were received from throughout the country. The appointment of a suitable consultant to assess these applications is under way. While the scheme is national in its scope one of the criteria employed in the assessment of applications received is the geographical balance achieved in the training and support services provided to target groups. In this regard the achievement of quality training for the sector, whether rural or urban based, is the primary objective.
The Implementation and Advisory Group, IAG, which was established to advise on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the White Paper has as one of its terms of reference the monitoring of developments in accreditation of training for the sector. The IAG has recently begun its consideration of the relevant issues in this area. Training and accreditation issues were considered also by the National Committee on Volunteering and a number of recommendations in this regard are contained in its report to Government, Tipping The Balance. The report and its recommendations are currently being considered by officials in my Department.