Testimonials from participants on the benefits of participating in the EWM programme

Testimonials from participants on the benefits of participating in the EWM programme:

As a working class woman I have had greater opportunities and possibilities opened up to me as a direct result of this programme and of my involvement with Waterford Women’s Centre in particular. I left school at 15 and would not have contemplated taking on this learning without all the supports that are available to me within Waterford Women’s Centre. The learning happens in a way that is very real, meaningful and collective. I feel I am learning far more than I would I if were an individual learner in mainstream programme. The learning on this programme has helped me to recognize that my years of volunteering in my community were very worthwhile and valid. It has also given me the confidence to participate in policy and decision making at national level which has led to employment as coordinator of a national community women’s networking organisation. This organization is responsible for implementing the women’s sector local and community development programme throughout the country. I would not have been considered for this work if I had not been participating in this programme and working towards a degree in Community Education and Development. I am very grateful for the opportunity this programme has offered. (Miriam Holt)
I have gotten so much from being a participant on the degree course in the women's centre. I have learned so much around equality and my own internalised oppression. I have received clarity around my own projection on dominant groups and feel relieved and grateful for my new found understanding. I have found words to challenge inequality. I am in a far better place regarding my work practice as a community development worker. I have sought change within my practice and been heard, I feel because I have a confidence now in what I believe in. All of this course from the beginning was a place in which it was safe to learn, ask questions and to discover and explore community development, ourselves and the personal to the political. Most of all I have found my voice regarding many issues that affect me as a woman and single parent. I am truly grateful to the women's centre for the opportunity of being a participant on this course. They are truly professional facilitators dedicated to facilitating women in effecting change in a supportive and encouraging environment. Many thanks (Esther Foley)
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Being a participant on this course has built my capacity personally professionally and politically. I am now a more confident capable Community development worker.
I now understand the effects internal and external oppression had on me personally, professionally and politically.
I am raising awareness among marginalised people as too how class, oppression, poverty, lack of opportunities, structures and policies affect our lives.
I have received paid work since becoming a participant on the degree course. I have received mentoring in facilitation that is second to none.
This degree course along with facilitation training with Waterford Women’s Centre has helped me have more agency personally politically and professionally am now Facilitating a women’s group. I have also gained employment as a coordinator of volunteers/youth worker.
I am an agent of change in the community and hoping to set up a young women’s group in the community in the coming months. (Joanne Corcoran)
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The opportunity to do this course in the Waterford Women's Centre was a dream come true for me. I come from a marginalised background where I became the main bread winner for my family at 17. Without the funding you provided I would never have been in a financial position to pursue a third level education. As a woman, mother and lone parent where there was no equality of opportunity for me. This course has provided me with a sense of agency, has build my capacity. It has given me the opportunity to obtain a qualification to make me more employable but it has also given me skills to improve both my personal life and my practice. I am passing the learning on to my community and in my own small way making it a better place for women my capacity building and helping them find their sense of agency and to understand that they are equal members of society. I would like thank you for the opportunity you have given me and may many other marginalised women benefit from the funding you provide that changes lives and communities (Kay Wall)
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My family has been badly hit by this recession. My husband lost his business and livelihood at the very start of this recession. For the past 15 years I have been mother, homemaker and founder member of a multi denominational school for Waterford for the past 12 years (participating on a daily level as a volunteer). The opportunity to participate in this degree for me, puts words on, and acknowledges my involvement with the school. A school built on many of the community development principles that I can now name today. I have had many roles over the years and this degree will acknowledge my commitment and participation to the ongoing development of the school and contribution as a parent to the overall process.
I find learning enlightening and being really honest it has been a great comfort and light in the face of the doom and gloom of recession. The Women’s centre has been a refuge - the learning has been enriching in so many ways for it spills forth into my life and those around me benefit too. I found a bell hooks quote and it really spoke to me -
“To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself”. (hooks 1994 p3). Hooks, B (1994) Teaching to Transgress. Education as the practice of freedom, London: Routledge. kind regards and thanks, (Caroline Hennessy)

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My journey has taken me from being a group participant with no confidence and with no formal education since the age of 14. As a result of this educational opportunity I am now working as a facilitator with groups of women in the community. I never thought years ago that I had the ability to learn at an academic level. I know it is the provision of a safe space where I am listened to supported and encouraged, which gives me the freedom to progress and learn at my own pace.
Through the provision of a range of supports with coursework and building my confidence many of the barriers in my life have been supported and addressed. I now recognise and experience how 3rd level education is made accessible by very creative informal methods that have enabled me to learn.
Through this educational journey my social analysis awareness in relation to equality and how the effects of marginalisation and oppression influences people’s behaviour in society has taken me from the local to the global. I am now involved with working at both grassroots level and also at policy level. (Ann Fitzgerald)

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"At least once a day I think about the fact that I have been given the opportunity to participate in further education, at a time in my life when I thought it would never happen. The benefit to me of the learning to date on a professional level is already evident in my practice, and on a personal level it has given me so much more confidence. I'm now in my 50's , with all the life experiences of working and raising a family and educating them all to third level, its liberating for me to now be back doing something for my own personal & professional life. I would never have been in a financial position to do a degree without the support of the funding from the EWM programme" (Dee Jacques)
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Through the support of the EWM funding the Waterford Women’s Centre delivery of a degree program in Community Development and Adult Education has allowed me to go back to college, without the funding and support this would not have been an option for me. As a result of the funding support for this program this has provided the opportunity to me to participate in this degree and continue with my own development as a community practitioner. I am a single working parent and the financial support has enabled me to participate in this degree, without this support I would not have my own resources to participate.
As the degree is being delivered by the Waterford Women’s centre this also provides a space for a women only group, this has provided through the facilitative method of delivery a very safe and powerful group, from which knowledge is shared from our life experiences and community experience. Through the process it has enabled me as participant to view the challenges that face women as a result of our social conditioning and enable me as a participant to acquire new skills and knowledge to challenge inequality that is prevalent within our society. Our society’s structures which are typically patriarchal in nature and this process is enabling me as a participant to build my capacity to strive for change and work within my community practice to widen participation and to build my sense of agency.
The method of delivery has also been dramatically different from my experiences with mainstream education, with an emphasis on the group structure and the group agreements and through the integrated method of the modules this has provided for deeper understanding of group work and reflection on the dynamics of group work within the community context.
I am very grateful for the opportunity provided by both the EWM and Waterford Women’s Centre for the opportunity to progress my education. (Fiona Crotty)
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