The STEP and City Gate Advocacy Group has 11 members. It meets every 2nd Monday at 4.30pm in the Corres Centre in Sandyford. If anyone has an issue they need help with in their work or community they can approach any member of the committee or the Advocacy Co-ordinator, Anna Shinnors. An example of some of the issues we discuss and try to progress are: discrimination in shops, poor accessibility on local transport and difficulties using bank ATM machines.
Group members have benefitted from a sense of togetherness when tackling issues of concern, as opposed to tacking problems alone. The Advocacy Group has a stronger foothold now within STEP and City Gate, as well as in the local community. Recent Rights Assessments indicate an increase in knowledge about rights and an increased sense that change is needed. Families and staff have been informed of the results of Rights Assessments and reported rights restrictions are now all in due process.
We have also attended many conferences around the country and met with other advocacy groups. We have worked with some of these advocacy groups on certain issues. We partnered with Enable Ireland locally, as their service users had serious accessibility issues on local transport. We also worked with
- Foley Street Advocacy Group
- Southside Partnership
- Galway Advocacy Services
- Inclusion Ireland
- Carmona Services
- Department of Health Sciences in Trinity College Dublin.
Significant developments have been:
- Representation to External Bodies/Organisations to address external issues/barriers impacting the men and women –e.g. County Councils/Supermarkets/Banks
- Development of Disability Awareness Training Pack for Secondary Schools
- Development of Advocacy Newsletter circulated three times a year
- Facilitation of anti-bullying course for the men and women in association with Foley St Advocacy Group (Inclusion Ireland)
- Raising awareness of complaints’ process – Introduction of Complaints’ Phone/Form
- Training facilitated for Advocacy Board Members
- Introduction of Mentoring Programme to support Advocacy Board Members
- Assisting the Health Promotion men and women at STEP and City Gate.
We have achieved many things— creating a mentoring programme, ongoing work on health promotion in STEP and City Gate, the creation of a Disability Awareness Training Pack that will be carried out in schools and other organisations in the future. We also meet management on a monthly basis to discuss issues that affect the men and women in STEP and City Gate. We have met with the County Council in relation to local access issues and this work is ongoing. We have created a newsletter which goes to all staff and the men and women in STEP and City Gate. This comes out three times a year. These are just some of our achievements and an insight into other projects that we are currently involved in.