A Community Work Student’s Forum was established in 2021. The Forum is student led and is organised under the auspices of the All Ireland Endorsement Body for Community Work Education and Training (AIEB).
Maynooth University led out on the first Community Forum with it alternating between endorsed colleges annually.
This Forum seeks to establish relationships between community work students in each college and contribute to the ongoing development of a strong and connected community sector that will encourage and support future students and practitioners whilst forming a professional identity. Next year the aim is that another college will host the Forum on a different relevant topic keeping a community work focus.
The Community Work Students Forum has two key aims:
- To build a community work student collective’ and network to share each-others knowledge, learning, views and experiences that we can utilise in our future careers as community workers.
- To build our collective understanding and analysis of the challenges posed to communities and to community workers by far right mobilisation and the role and strategies community work can play and utilise in addressing these challenges
The first meeting of the Forum was organised by Naoise Weldon, student of Maynooth University on placement with Community Work Ireland. The chosen topic of the mobilisation of the far right was picked due to the reality that is quickly becoming an issue in Ireland with increasing protests, in particular in relation to anti-vax and anti-asylum seekers, and a growth in online hate speech in particular racist hate speech.
Below are the three presentations from the key-note speakers at the first event, and a number of useful links.
Senator Eileen Flynn spoke at the Community Work Students Forum, the Senator discussed about how language is important. As community workers, we must meet people where they are at. Eileen spoke of policy being driven by ideas and belief systems; some of which are discriminatory and informed by racist beliefs.
Senator Flynn pointed out we could invite far right work with us as they are as vulnerable and hurt by social structures but we challenge ideals and inform.
The Senator added, ”we must be careful not to label people based on opinion and language used as it the job of a Community Worker to create those spaces where communities can build their capacity to analyse society”.