Athlone Community Task Force Update April 2011

ACT and Education

ACT in support of its remit “…employment and enterprise……..measures leading thereto ….” committed itself to specific employment-driven interventions in education. ACT appreciates that “drop-out” is a multi-dimensional problem. It understands that its contribution can be effective only when delivered in close collaboration with the schools and the many agencies that have experience in education and in education support.

The establishment of the Gateway project developed from the needs of young Athlone people as identified by them. It is a multi-agency collaboration and it’s purpose is to “ encourage young people to complete their education and face the working world with confidence and ability”. An Afterschools programme for secondary schools will be set up within Gateway in September 2011 to support this purpose. ACT is delighted that so many elements of the Educational Action Research Project have been adopted by schools and other organisations. However there is a huge challenge to ACT and the Gateway Project to extend the “out-of- schools” programmes to all Athlone young people whose education and employment prospects would be greatly enhanced by their being included.

Vacation Activities

Disadvantaged young people generally have an unproductive summer. Most cannot pay for the various sporting camps, they do not go on vacation nor do they visit relatives or have relatives visit them. Employment is not open to them due to age. The upshot is that they return to school at low ebb and drop-out looms. Summer Connect was launched to address that problem by facilitating a productive summer vacation. A very successful Summer Connect programme took place in 2010. The programme for 2011 will be run as a Gateway Project programme.

Athlone Had a Good Halloween!

Following the very successful Festival in 2009, the enthusiasm for a repeat in 2010 was very evident. The Festival was run over the weekend and the participation of the young people and their Halloween design outfits was fantastic. Despite the bad weather, the Festival was a great success. Our thanks to everyone involved in the preparation and management of the event and very special thanks to the young people of Athlone who once again demonstrated their capacity to be responsible citizens. The challenge remains with the adult community to ensure that that capacity continues to be fostered through further development of child-centred opportunities.

Detached Youth Work Feasibility Study.

Athlone Community Taskforce, on behalf of the Gateway steering Group, obtained funding from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, under the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund, to employ a researcher to conduct an independent feasibility study to identify the extent of “at risk” youth in the Athlone area and establish a framework for detached youth work. The research started in January 2011 and the report was issued to the Gateway Steering Group in April 2011. The report supported the need for detached youth work in Athlone.


ACT is deeply grateful to it’s funders for their continued support. We are also deeply grateful for a very generous confidential contribution from an Athlone source , to the Dept. of Health and Children and to Pobal for the Capital and programme funding for the Gateway Project.


Creating local Enterprise and Employment is a positive in the current negative economic and high unemployment environment. Prospective Entrepreneurs need encouragement and support to take that all important first step to start their own business with confidence. Athlone Community Taskforce would encourage these entrepreneurs to get involved with the recently launched Enterprise Forum, of which ACT is a founder member, and avail of the encouragement and support that it offers. Details can be found on the website,

Revolving Loan

Athlone Community Taskforce, the Dept.of Social Protection and Westmeath Community Development have, in conjunction with Athlone Credit Union, established a loan fund for those who are on the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance and are in need of business start up finance. For further details, check the enterprise page of this website.


For details of previous updates, you may download our archive PDF file here, or click the link on the home page.

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