Nichola Grufferty, Development Officer with Career and Healthcare Opportunities for Women tells of the programmes COVID-19 experience in the latest edition of the PEIL Newsletter :

Career and Healthcare Opportunities for Women is targeted at women in Cork and Limerick who have been out of work and are interested in returning to the workforce. Ballyhoura Development leads the project, working in partnership with SECAD (South and East Cork Area Development) and also with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board and Cork Education and Training Board respectively.

After a period of animation and recruitment in December and January, the personal development aspect of the programme began shortly afterwards. This element of the programme is designed to build confidence and self-awareness through the identification of personal qualities and transferrable skills while also addressing areas for support.

Our Croom group was well established and had nearly completed the tailored, digital skills course when the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed. Classroom delivery came to a sudden halt. Now, more than ever, our participants needed our support. Through a series of phone calls and emails with the participants, a way forward was agreed upon through the use of the online video platform, Zoom.

Participants' abilities and resources were assessed with a view to moving the training aspect on line. The Midleton group, having access to broadband and computers and intensive digital skills supports, were happy to proceed with the online delivery of ‘Infection Prevention and Control’. The Croom group, from a wider and more rural geographic spread, did not have equal access to quality broadband and it was decided to defer the training aspect until September.

Participants in Croom were supported to update and complete job searches, letters of application and CVs. Mock interviews were held on a one-to-one basis via Zoom and group meetings continued to be held weekly. The focus remained on the needs of the participants, building confidence and skills that will enable them to be work/education ready.

Three online workshops, each focusing on facilitating women to return to work were successfully rolled out by Ballyhoura Development.

  • The first workshop focused on finding and applying for a job by creating effective letters of application and CVs.
  • The second provided guidance on how to complete a successful interview, be it online, or in person.
  • The final workshop delivered information on the basics of infection prevention and control to enable participants to protect themselves and others in the workplace.

All eligible women were offered one-to-one supports in their area of need. We had 37 women registered for at least one workshop, with many interested in all three.

Two of our participants, Johanna Carey and Tara O’Callaghan have shared their stories.

The latest and final edition of the PEIL Newsletter is now available for download on ESF Website:

Download PEIL Newsletter

For more information about The Career and Healthcare Opportunities for Women Programme or to register your interest, please contact Nichola Grufferty at [email protected] or phone 063 30694.

This project is co-funded by the Irish Government and European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014 - 2020.