Sunday, 20 August, 2017

Joanne Mc Cabe


Joanne McCabe, Focus Ireland

My name is Joanne McCabe and I am 33 years of age. I live in the north inner city of Dublin and was brought up on Dorset Street, Dublin. I have 5 children (one deceased) and I am the youngest of three children. I lead a busy life looking after my children and have always struggled to take care of myself.

Joanne McCabe - Inspiring LearnerJoanne McCabe - Inspiring Learner

"I had very little interest in studying and was eager to get out working"

I left school at the age of eighteen, two months before I was due to sit for the Leaving Certificate. I had very little interest in studying and was eager to get out working. It turned out that I had very little choice but to go out working and I was directed by my parents to go and earn some money.

I worked in many different settings including a cleaner and a general operative making sausages. I also spent a couple of years working in a bar as a lounge girl. Before I returned to education I used to spend a lot of time watching television and there were many afternoons that I sat around drinking tea and talking to the neighbours about life. I had hopes of returning to education and had begun some courses but I never completed any of them for one reason or another. I was a little lazy and fearful of anything new. I did complete a parenting course with Foundations but I found it hard to commit to.

"Part of me wanted to show my kids and make them proud of me"

Around this time my keyworker from Peter McVerry Trust told me about an education service called the PETE programme in Focus Ireland where they delivered FETAC level 3 courses and various other programmes of support and skills. I spoke with my keyworker again and told her that I would go over and give it a try for a week. Part of me wanted to show my kids and make them proud of me for returning to education but another part of me was terrified about meeting new people in a school environment. In January 2013 I enrolled with the PETE programme, PETE was the perfect fit for me. I loved the relaxed atmosphere. It was fun and I met loads of new people who wanted to achieve the same goals as me. I felt the staff there were involved and made my learning experience an enjoyable one. It gave me structure and routine and something that I could look forward to on a daily basis. I completed five FETAC level 3 awards there. It was nothing like my memories of school. Over the first term I completed FETAC level 3 courses in Self Advocacy, Computer Literacy and Health and Fitness. Self-advocacy really helped me. It was great fun, I improved my self-confidence, learned about beliefs and values and it was my first time to try public speaking. Computer Literacy assisted me in learning about the internet and internet safety which I have passed on to my children. Health and Fitness taught me about having a balance in my life with exercising and healthy eating. Over the next 2 terms I completed FETAC level 3 courses in Kitchen and Cookery skills and Personal and Social Skills where I learned a little about self-awareness and being assertive. I was never a good cook but PETE staff made it fun to learn. I also completed a six week anger management course, attended a women’s group and various health and home skills classes.

"I was given the opportunity to represent Ireland at the European Anti-Poverty Network in Brussels"

Throughout this time my confidence levels were increasing and I attended various meetings with AONTAS and I was given the opportunity to represent Ireland at the European Anti-Poverty Network in Brussels. I spoke in front of a large group for the first time and I applied the basic principles of public speaking and group work that I had learned in the self-advocacy class. It was nerve racking but to think that I was scared of people in ‘suits’ before I attended PETE. My dream for the future is to complete the FETAC level 3 course – Career Preparation with the PETE programme and get a good curriculum vitae together. It is helping me with the interview process and preparation. I want to volunteer in the social sector and ultimately go back and study FETAC level 4 & 5 in Social Studies. I would love to be a keyworker in the future so I can help others achieve their hopes and goals. If it wasn’t for people believing in me and supporting me I would not be in the position I am in today. I am one of the lucky ones and I want to give something back to those less fortunate in the future.