Three WISE women held a conference in Donegal last week to show the many ways that they can change women’s lives.
The ‘A Fresh Start for Women’ event by the WISE Project was held on Thursday March 22nd to explore the many avenues of employment, education and self-employment that are open to Donegal women today.
The WISE Project is co funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the ESP Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.
A motivational morning conference welcomed women from all walks of life to the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny to share experiences and to inspire progression.
It was the ideal opportunity for Donegal’s three WISE advisers to introduce themselves and discuss how they can inform and support women as they set out to reinvent themselves. Four keynote speakers from business, education and the voluntary sector also spoke about their work and how they are connected to a woman’s journey to a fresh start.
Gemma Duffy (Buncrana), Grainne Boyle (Letterkenny) and Helen Donoghue (Dungloe) were eager to spread the word about the free WISE programme they lead to get women back to work.
The WISE Project is for women who are neither employed nor unemployed (i.e. not in direct receipt of jobseekers’ benefit). The team are here to help women who may have been out of work for some time and to help them reinstate their confidence and skills to find employment.
“WISE is about the woman, it’s about you. We support women, we empower women and we celebrate women” Grainne said. She explained how the team provides continuous support for clients. Advisers remain behind their clients every step of the way, cheer them on as they make progress, and keep in contact up to 6 months after they start working.
Guest speaker Jackie Ferry shared an inspirational account of her journey back to employment with the help of WISE. Jackie, a mum of three, was guided by adviser Helen Donoghue to become a Key Youth Worker with Youthscape at the Donegal Youth Service. Jackie spoke of how Helen went above and beyond to meet up with Jackie, identify her skills and prepare her for interviews.
“The day I rang Helen to tell her I got the job, we were both in tears,” Jackie said. “Without Helen’s help I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
WISE is all about networking and linking women with employers, Helen explained. She said that some local companies have built a close connection with WISE and now contact them directly when they are looking for new recruits.
WISE is also about improving skills for employability and setting women on a new path to education. Tara McGuire of the Donegal ETB spoke of the many courses they run in 14 Further Education Training Centres across Donegal. She outlined the many levels of qualification that learners can achieve from courses, which offer practical work experience and enhanced employment opportunities.
Rachel Wasson, Enterprise Officer at Donegal Local Development Company, had more motivational business guidance for all women present.
Rachel said that establishing a business is like baking a cake. She explored the ingredients/skills entrepreneurs need and pointed out that women and mothers naturally have these skills to be a good businesswoman.
Rachel invited women with start-up ideas to contact her and find out how the DLDC can link them with available supports.
The final keynote speaker was Mary Maguire of the Donegal Women’s Centre. Mary gave an informative talk on the psychological, emotional, health, social and educational needs that are covered at the centre. Opportunities to volunteer at DWC are plentiful, Mary said, as she outlined the advantage of having this experience on a CV.
Eamonn Moore, Contract Manager with People 1st, invited all women to join the 776 people that the company has helped return to employment in Donegal since 2017.
The WISE Project has supported over 150 clients across Donegal since May 2017, with 30% of those women gaining employment, self-employment and going back to education.
Eamonn said the best benefit people get from WISE is the confidence to move on with their lives with a skip in their step. “Employers are waiting on you to step forward,” he told conference attendees.
In just three hours, guests has gained essential information from various sectors to inspire them to broaden their horizons. They were also entertained by the excellent Barbara Edwards of Rhythmic Noise, who had everybody on their feet and enjoying her musical exercises. During the intervals, guests browsed pop-up stands to discover information on other avenues of business and personal development. The event ended with a fun raffle, where guests won many great spot prizes from companies across Donegal.
If you would like to see what the WISE women can do for you, contact your nearest adviser at the numbers below.
Gemma Duffy (Buncrana) 0861452252
Grainne Boyle (Letterkenny) 0861452250
Helen Donoghue (Dungloe) 0861452249
The WISE Project would like to thank the following Exhibitors for generously providing their time to encourage the women at the conference.
Mary Maguire with the Donegal Women’s Centre
Tara Mc Guire with Donegal ETB
Jackie Ferry with Donegal Youth Service
Barbara Edwards with Rhythmic Noise Music.
Catherine Campbell with BizzPrint
Evelyn Mc Glynn with Donegal Mammy & Donegal Women in Business
We would also like to thank the following business for providing spot prizes for out attendees.
Niall Callagher XL Shop Main Street Letterkenny
Tipsy Nail Letterkenny
Kates Kitchen Newtowncunningham
Amelias Gift Shop Letterkenny
Aura Leisure Centre Letterkenny
Chemist Connect Bridgend
One Luxury Bridgend
Healthwise Pharmacy Buncrana
Vixen Hair & Beauty Carndonagh
Shandon Hotel & Spa Dunfanaghy
Mc Faddens Gift Shop Letterkenny
Waterfront Hotel Dungloe
Old Glen Bar & Restaurant Glen
La Vie Beauty Dungloe.
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