11 May 2018

SAOL Project Benefit from Cross Border Collaboration

Three staff members of The SAOL Project will travel across the border to Belfast today (11.5.18) to take part in an EU funded programme that supports adult learning practitioners in Ireland to acquire new work skills, contributing to active citizenship and personal development.

The award winning SAOL Project, based in Dublin’s North Inner City, is a community project focussed on improving the lives of women affected by addiction and poverty. SAOL were winners of the prestigious AONTAS STAR Award in 2017 and the prize included an opportunity to take part in an ERASMUS+ KA1 programme.

SAOL chose Belfast as the location for their European learning exchange and will take part in an accredited Train the Trainer course offered by the Training for Women’s Network (TWN) in Belfast. This course will help SAOL staff members Belinda Nugent, Erica Browne and Ray Hegarty facilitate peer training on Hepatitis and Women’s Studies.

Such programmes also enable AONTAS to support our members to promote examples of best practice at EU level, and as a method for reciprocal learning and cultural exchange.

Speaking ahead of the training Gary Broderick, Director of the SAOL said: “The group are busy putting together their presentations for tomorrow’s session. The SAOL project previously had links with networks in Northern Ireland over twenty years ago. This EU programme has allowed us to re-ignite this link and now there is a possibly of a future partnership with the TWN as a direct result of this programme.”

The training has been invaluable whilst sometimes challenging but they are definitely enjoying the experience. While travelling up to Belfast they got the opportunity to meet Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission so that was very exciting.”

The trip is one of 24 learning exchanges organised by AONTAS, the national adult learning organisation, to support the professional development of adult and community education practitioners in Ireland through the ERASMUS+ programme.

Speaking about the opportunity AONTAS CEO Niamh O’Reilly said: “Ireland’s lifelong learning system has a great reputation at EU level and ERAMSUS+ offers the opportunity to not only engage in continuous professional development but share expertise and importantly enable intercultural learning. The fact that SAOL chose to go to Belfast out of all the possible opportunities is particularly pertinent in strengthening connections with counterparts in Northern Ireland as Brexit looms.”

AONTAS is committed to supporting its members to take up ERASMUS+ opportunities for reciprocal learning and to bring back new ideas, and perhaps a renewed appreciation of the expertise that exists in further, adult and community education. Ultimately it’s about adult learners benefiting from well trained staff.