How We Work

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The Waterford Women’s Centre, through the implementation of its outreach strategy, engages and works with women living in Waterford City and surrounding areas who experience social, cultural, educational and economic disadvantage. The Centre supports women through community development, community education, information and support, enabling and empowering them to create and participate in a more equal and inclusive society.

Working with women experiencing social exclusion is really about focusing on and addressing BARRIERS and the EFFECTS of the BARRIERS that prevent women from participating in society. Much of social inclusion policy focuses on "Target Groups" and "interventions needed". Our work stems from the belief that to bring about lasting change we must name and address the social, structural and internalised barriers that cause exclusion. We have learnt that equality is really about the removal of barriers and that these barriers must be named by those who experience inequality. We do this through supporting women to find their voice in order to address issues that affect their lives.

- "community education embraces all three domains of learning, intellectual, physical and emotional (thinking, doing and feeling). It is a holistic approach to education that requires a skilled facilitator using a wide range of methods to facilitate the process of learning."
- Garavan et al 1995

The focus of the work is with women who experience educational, economic and social disadvantage. We facilitate women to form groups and design and develop their own community education programmes.

Key characteristics of the way we work:

• barriers to participation are identified and addressed
• needs based - consultative approach at all stages
• a safe, respectful space is actively created, encouraged and maintained
• learning is collective, integrated, creative, highly participatory and non-intimidating
• critical reflection on lived experience is facilitated and forms the basis of the learning which is  ‘constructed with’ the group rather than information being ‘delivered to’ the group.

Also all learning programmes are integrated with the work of the project which is concerned with community development and social change.

"Community Education is education and learning which is rooted in a process of empowerment, social justice, change, challenge, respect and collective consciousness. It is within the community and of the community, reflecting the developing needs of individuals and their locale. It builds the capacity of local communities to engage in developing responses to educational and structural disadvantage and to take part in decision-making and policy-formation within the community. It is distinct form general adult education provision, due both to its ethos and to the methodologies it employs."
- Aontas