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STEP/ELEVATE Highlights 22/23

It’s been a great year for the Youth Vocation and Training department across the Cork Region. STEP Cork City and Cobh and ELEVATE Special Category CE Scheme based in Cork City working with young people aged between 17-25.

There were many highlights to the year: A brand new training kitchen was installed in Cobh YMCA which will allow young people to learn new skills through cookery. Donations for the training kitchen facility were received from Cobh Active retirement, Cobh Credit Union, Cobh Lions Club, Cobh County Council and the HSE Lottery. We would like to sincerely thank all of the sponsors for their contributions, this space will benefit the YMCA students in terms of their wellbeing and will develop new skills in the area of health, nutrition and diet. Cobh Chill on the Hill, Carbery Group Limited and Aldi Food Cloud have been extremely supportive in assisting with some basic food supplies to our students who are most vulnerable to food poverty and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their kindness and support.

There were lots of collaborative projects with other communities taking place enhancing learning experiences overall.

The Students have been collaborating on many local projects: The Cobh STEP group worked toward being responsive and progressive to the YMCA’s overall goal of sustainability in conjunction with Cobh Tidy Towns to plant a number of trees in their local community. The NYCI, Sirius Arts Centre and the Glucksman in UCC worked on developing the creativity of the groups through various forms of art and design including STEAM activities. Thanks to the Glucksman Gallery in UCC the STEP students in Cork City had an opportunity to showcase to the public their work on their chosen theme of social justice. STEP Cork City had a specific focus on supporting the homeless preparing and providing food to the Simon community in Cork. The students organised and hosted an event called Y-Talk to create awareness around youth mental health, a project funded through Leargas. Small local events were held throughout the year such as the coffee morning hosted by students from ELEVATE. The YMCA students assisted the Cobh Lions Club in their local medication initiative. There has been continued support from our local community organisations this year: Cork County Council funded paint from Relove Paint and Tesco has accepted the YMCA as part of the Blue Token local charity in their Cork City store.

Spirituality Day is an annual staff and student wellbeing event focusing on nature which was held in October 2022 in Top of the Rock, Drimolegue. Students have had many opportunities to take part in additional activities and overnight events throughout the year as part of Youth Vocation and the wider YMCA family.

The big event of the year was on the 5th July 2023 when 25 YMCA students graduated in the City Hall Cork, in the presence of family and friends, the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr. Mick Finn, Management and Staff of the YMCA, representatives from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Cork Education and Training Board. This was a prestigious event hosted by the Cork City Council to celebrate academic and personal achievements and highlights of this event were published in the Evening Echo.

The Cork Education and Training Board and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are funding the STEP and ELEVATE training programmes and these partnerships continue to strengthen. The YMCA delivers high quality education to our students which is verified under the Quality Assurance of the Cork Education and Training Board meeting the guidelines set out by the QQI National Framework.

Recruitment is currently underway for our STEP and ELEVATE training programmes for the academic year 2023/2024 and we are very excited to see what opportunities arise.

Helen O’Shea
Youth Vocation Team Leader
YMCA Ireland

Helen O’Shea (086) 083 1522

STEP Cork City
Sharon O’Donovan (086) 083 1526