The board and committee of Erris Family & Community Support Centre CLG pictured with local community members.

Mayo's Erris Family & Community Support Centre holds its first annual meeting

The first annual general meeting of Erris Family & Community Support Centre CLG was held on May 17 last at the IWA centre in Belmullet.

It was a wonderful milestone after four years of campaigning for a family resource centre for Erris.

In November of last year the primary aim of the organisation was achieved when Tusla confirmed annual core funding for a centre for the region, albeit with a different title and not yet part of the national FRC programme.

All the necessary structures and governance requirements needed to operate and fully establish the centre have been prepared and Erris Family & Community Support Centre CLG is a company with a voluntary board of management. A service level agreement has been prepared with Tusla and a new officer board was elected at the annual meeting.

The priority for the coming months is to secure suitable premises for the centre and to begin the recruitment of core staff. The board and committee will also continue with the two key areas of work: provision and facilitation of mental health services and supports locally, and meeting the needs of early years and parents through the Erris Parent, Baby & Toddler Group.

The outgoing chairperson, Leanne Barrett, thanked all those who have been involved in and supported this project over the last number of years. She acknowledged the hard work, belief and sense of community that drove everyone from the outset, all striving to secure a community-led and community-based resource for Erris.

The meeting heard from the mental health and property working groups, with great progress and achievements for both. Over 120 sessions of counselling have been provided locally by North West Stop. Margaret Heffron, in particular, as part of this working group, was commended for her dedication to ensuring that counselling services became available to people locally.

A pre-planning submission and a CLÁR funding application have been submitted to Mayo County Council with the hope of securing a building for the centre, along with the support of Mayo TDs and local councillors.

Paddy Joe Deane, on behalf of the board, thanked the outgoing chairperson for her professionalism, leadership and the high standards maintained throughout the campaign and development of the project. He went on to propose Rosaleen Lally as chairperson of the board, noting her skills, commitment and ability to lead the project through this next phase.

Rosaleen, as incoming chair, noted the dedicated and capable team she would be working with and said that despite what will be a busy next chapter, she is confident that the committee will bring the project to its full completion.

The incoming directors and officer board are: chairperson Rosaleen Lally, vice-chairperson Margaret Heffron, company secretary Leah Owens, treasurer Rosemarie Mangan, vice-treasurer Dervilia Cullotty, directors Paddy Joe Deane, Teresa Gaughan and Ferdia Ó Mongáin. The outgoing directors are Leanne Barrett (chair) and Rina Garrett (director). Members of Erris FCSC are Majella Lavelle and Rina Garrett.

Erris Family & Community Support Centre would like to thank Clare and the team at the IWA in Belmullet for their continued support and for accommodating meetings, members of the community who joined in and were interested to learn more about the project, and all members of the past and present steering committee and board for their contributions and support. A special word of thanks was sent to Tusla for their support and involvement, in particular Elaine English (West Mayo CFSN). They look forward to further building on this relationship with local area manager Heather Wilson and Elaine as interim PPFS manager in the coming months.

This has been a collective effort and Erris Family & Community Support Centre exists because of the continued inter-agency, cross-community and cross-party support. The board will continue to work towards a vision of an inclusive, sustainable and independent community that is self-sufficient and provides a supportive environment for all those living there.