Our Lady’s Island Community Centre, Broadway, Co. Wexford
Project type: Community childcare
Carnsore Windfarm Community Fund
Grant amount: €5,938
Páistí Beaga preschool was established in 2010 by a group of local voluntary directors and committee members as a not for profit company to provide safe, happy, affordable quality childcare service to the local community.
Since its establishment, the preschool operated from a small rented room in a local Community Centre and catered for a maximum of 12 children aged 3 to 5 years.
Páistí Beaga evolved to introduce an after school drop in service but this was also limited by space constraints. Páistí Beaga rapidly outgrew its modest beginnings with ever growing demand for its service.
In June 2016, Páistí Beaga prioritised its search for alternative premises and identified an disused public house close to the local Primary School which had been unoccupied for several years. The premises proved to great have potential for the preschool to evolve with large rooms and extensive enclosed gardens to the rear. The owner of the premises committed to the refurbishment of the structural elements the building.
In turn, Páistí Beaga and the local community pooled their resources to secure Windfarm Community Funds to assist in the redevelopment of the leased premises. The funding helped to secure much needed and larger childcare facility and after school service for the Community of Our Lady’s Island and the surrounding areas. The group aimed to expand its offering with a breakfast club for working parents and in the longer term, full day childcare, creche services and extended after school service.
Specifically, Páistí Beaga were tasked with completion of the premises to meet regulations set out by TUSLA for a childcare facility and to ensure security and safety.
Primarily, the windfarm funds were used to provide:
- Floor levelling and flooring of 200 square metres.
- Painting and decorating
- Shelving and storage units and window dressings
- Front security door
- Two alarmed fire exit doors
- Landscaping of the garden
How many people benefited (directly or indirectly) from the grant?
The expanded service caters for 22 children in each service in the preschool & after school.
What is different in people’s lives as a result of this project?
This service was badly needed within the community and the introduction and subsequent success of after school services has proved that the service is essential. Many parents returned to work in the past two years and as a result, demand for affordable childcare and after school services have increased. Fortunately, Páistí Beaga no longer have to turn away families because of space constraints and health and safety concerns.
What unforeseen difficulties (not related to funding), if any, were encountered and how were they overcome?
The main difficulty for the group was undertaking such a large volume of the work as small core group of volunteers. The group endeavoured to do everything themselves with very limited resources. This proved to be additionally challenging both in terms of time and energy.
What were the key lessons learned?
- Scheduling – the project was estimated to take 3-4 months but in reality, it took almost a year.
- Underestimating the challenges of upgrading an old building.
- Expect the unexpected – the group adhered to all regulations but it was challenging to learn about each requirement (such as fire safety and inspection) as the project evolved.
What were the highlights of your project?
Local tradesmen offered their services free of charge. This demonstrated great community spirit and generosity. It was also significant financial help and bolstered the Windfarm Community Fund investment. In addition, Páistí Beaga was in a fortunate position to cover costs such as paint, timber, concrete etc from a small savings account.
Central to the success for the project was support garnered from the local community and their buy in ensured the ultimate success of the project. Since the pre-school opened its doors in August 2017, it has been operating at full capacity.
An additional highlight is that the village has benefitted from an old building coming back to life, the upgraded building and improved streetscape will be seen and enjoyed for many years to come.
‘’The completion of the Páistí Beaga building development project has brought a huge sense of achievement to our group of volunteers. The pre-school is thriving and we are certain it will continue to provide a great start to children and a lasting legacy in the community.’’ Jane McLaughlin
Total project spend: approximately in the region of €15,000 not including the Windfarm Community Development Fund allocation.