LOCALS in Carrigkerry now have a fountain of knowledge on their doorstep following the opening of a community information point in their village.
The service, which is located in the local community centre, is open four days per week and offers information on everything from welfare benefits to job vacancies.
The scheme is a pilot project by West Limerick Resources (WLR), and it is expected that several more like it will be rolled out in other rural areas in the coming months.
Ed O’Connor, development worker with WLR in Abbeyfeale, said that they want the Carrigkerry information centre to become “a first point of contact” for locals.
“It’s an extra resource, and hopefully it’ll lead to even more people using the Citizens Information office in Newcastle West. People can come in, look at the leaflets, flick through what’s on the computer.
“If they need her there’s a FÁS worker who has been trained and willing to help. We like to think of it as a first point of contact. We find that once people become aware of what information is available to them, they come back looking for more and more”.
The centre is open from 9am to 2pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. A dedicated FÁS project worker, Eileen O’Grady, is present every day and has been trained to handle queries and provide information.
There is a computer with broadband access that will allow locals to search for job vacancies and VEC courses, get information on grant schemes, and find out about social welfare entitlements.
Pat King, supervisor with the local FÁS project, said that at a time when rural villages are losing services, the community information point will be a valuable resource.
“This is a small village without a lot of services like public transport. It’s also a broadband black spot. There’s a computer there that people can either come in and use themselves, or get some help using.
“It’s really only in the last two weeks that it’s been up and running. We’ve had a few callers so far, but we want to get it out there now that this is open.”
Mr King said that once the information point service was announced, an application was made to the FÁS area office in Newcastle West to grant one extra body for the Carrigkerry scheme, which could then be attached to the centre full time.
It is understood that similar services are to be rolled out to at least three other West Limerick villages over the next twelve months, beginning with Athea. There, a community information point is to be located at the Con Colbert Community Hall.
Mr O’Connor said that each centre will be staffed by a worker with either a FÁS or Tús scheme, depending on local availability.
He said that West Limerick Resources would also like to thank the Carrigkerry-Old Mill Development Association for facilitating the space for the community information point. “They were very co-operative and appreciate how important this is going to be”.
To contact the Carrigkerry community information point, phone 069 76667.