Creating a sustainable future for West Cork

Abi O’Callaghan-Platt lives in West Cork and is a Campaign Manager for the environmental NGO, VOICE Ireland.

FREE PIC – NO REPRO FEEPainting the sustainability picture – FREE Sustainable Communities Training Programme for South and West Cork: Pictured at the launch of the new SECAD Programme which kicks off on 24th May were 10-year-old twins Chloe and Tess Murphy from Killeens along with Nuala O’Connell, SECAD Partnership CLG (left); Abi O’Callaghan-Platt, VOICE and Tad Kirakowski, VOICE. The programme (which has limited spaces) promotes the development of sustainable communities in social, environmental and economic terms. Running from 24 May 2021 to June 2022 the intensive programme will provide expert training to 16 successful communities. Visit to register your place (spaces are limited) before Monday 24 May April 2021. #SustainableCommunities.Pic: Brian LougheedMore info and full press release from Hopkins Communications on 021 5005994 (Niamh Drohan or Mary Jo Ryan).

Are you passionate about the future of the West Cork community you live in? Are you interested in charting a sustainable pathway for your town or village? If so, the Sustainable Communities Training Programme is for you! 

The programme asks communities to think about what they want for the future of their town. To ask themselves questions such as ‘What do I cherish about where I live and how can I ensure it is still there in the future?’ ‘Who are the people in our communities, and what do they need? ‘What are the challenges faced by our community, and how can we overcome these?’

The SECAD Sustainable Communities Training Programme is a free programme aimed at community groups, volunteers, businesses, young people and individuals who are interested in developing and nurturing sustainability within their local communities. Funded by the LEADER (2014-2020) Programme, the initiative will support participating communities to identify their sustainability goals, while helping them to develop a community plan that strives for social, environmental and economic benefits for all.  

The programme will be delivered by the environmental NGO VOICE Ireland. VOICE is an environmental charity that empowers individuals and local communities to take positive action to conserve our natural resources. See for more info.

How does the programme work?

The programme begins on September 15 and will run until May 2022. During this time a core group within the participating communities will be trained in sustainability issues and project management and will work together to develop a sustainability roadmap for their community. One headline project from the roadmap will go on to West Cork based architect, Design Republic, to be costed and developed to planning permission standards.

The programme kicks off with six weekly workshops on different topics within the area of sustainability, delivered by experts within the field:

• Green Enterprise workshop – led by the Clean Technology Centre

• Sustainable Energy and Transport – led by Tipperary Energy Agency

• Biodiversity and Nature Connection – led by Cork Environmental Forum

• The Circular Economy – led by VOICE 

• Sustainable Agriculture – led by Farming for Nature

• Sustainable Town Planning – led by Coakley O’Neill Town Planners Ltd

Programme Timeline:

• September 15 to October 20, 2021: Sustainability workshops every Wednesday evening from 7-9pm on Zoom

• November and December 2021: Developing the draft community led sustainability roadmap 

• January and February 2022: Eight project management training workshops, held once a week on Zoom.  

• March, April and May 2022: Finalising the sustainability roadmap and working with architects, Design Republic, to finalise the legacy project

The programme will run alongside the school year, with breaks scheduled to coincide with school holidays.

Outcomes from participating in the programme

The outcome for the community from participating in the programme is a sustainability plan for the community, and the capacity to deliver it. By May 2022 your community will have: 

• A Community Development Team for your town/village training in sustainability issues and project management   

• An expert reviewed community-led sustainability roadmap for your town/village 

• A project ready to go with full architect designed specifications and costings

How do I get involved?

Anyone can take part and be on the Community Development Team for their town or village! If you are passionate about the future of your community, we would love to have you on board! We invite anyone who lives in West Cork to sign up, whether you work full time, are a business owner, a stay-at-home parent, retired, unemployed or a student the programme is open to you. We hope to have a diverse range of people participating in each community, to ensure the outcomes reflect the needs of the community as a whole! Whether you have lived in West Cork all your life, or have newly moved here we would welcome your voice! 

Community Development Teams are being formed in Skibbereen, Baltimore, Ballinspittle, Kinsale and Clonakilty. Register to join them at

We are also keen for additional communities to participate! If you live in another part of West Cork and would love to see the programme run in your area, register your interest here or contact SECAD via or 021 461 3432 / 087 967 2515. 

WCP Staff

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