FROM learning to cook on a shoestring to exercising with your children, a family resource ‘hub’ in Newcastle West is helping young families across the local area to improve their quality of life.
Over the past two years, the upstairs area in the local community centre has played host to a burgeoning project which has provided a social outlet for families or lone parents on lower incomes, and with young children.
The ‘hub’ is now a focal point which provides everything from fitness boot camps for parents to conversation clubs and play schemes for pre-school children.
Theresa Shanahan of West Limerick Resources (WLR), who coordinate the project, said that the family hub is targeted specifically at families who may be deemed to be at a disadvantage, such as those reliant on social welfare, refugees and those in contact with the HSE.
“It’s all with parents together, it isn’t like a creche service.
For example, we’ve the language and play group for parents whose kids aren’t in school yet. That’s developmental play; we’d maybe have a chat with the parents on whatever the topic is.
“There’s free play for the kids, mums get to know each other. It isn’t like the mainstream parents and toddlers groups, because it isn’t open to everyone in the public”.
As the hub project enters its third year, information is now available about particular courses and schemes that may be of interest to local families.
Classes on how to cook on a budget will take place at the Foroige youth cafe in the market yard, while a special ‘FitKids’ family club will run over an eight week period and will see children and their parents playing together for an hour and 15 minutes after school.
The project also hosts FETAC-certified courses in personal development, which are targeted at parents who may be unemployed.
The course options will teach people about building self confidence, setting goals, developing communication skills and learning about career and education opportunities.
Ms Shanahan said that while funding for the projects is tight, it encourages various different agencies to work together.
“The FitKids is basically primary school kids and parents together. It’s part-funded by the County Limerick Sports Partnership, because we always have a physical activity and a healthy snack.”
Ms Shanahan said that while a long-term goal is to have a family resource centre in Newcastle West which is open to the entire public, an abridged scheme specifically for people in receipt of social welfare or in council houses is an important step in the right direction.
“What parents said was, they didn’t have anywhere they could bring kids of all ages. In the hub we’ve a playroom, we do activities in the hall, and parents get to know each other, and hear what supports we have.”
For more information on upcoming schemes at the Newcastle West family hub, you can call or text Theresa Shanahan, co-ordinator on 087 6025602.