Lots of familiar faces, some still with us, some sadly departed, at the official opening of the Drogheda Resource Centre for the Unemployed in February 1988. Photo: Andy Spearman.
When the shutters were brought down on the Drogheda Resource Centre on the North Quay last Wednesday it signalled the end of more than three decades of service for the town’s unemployed.
The Resource Centre, as it was always known, opened in February 1988 and provided a facility for those who found themselves out of work or seeking a pathway through training to enhance their skills to get back into mainstream employment.
The centre opened at a time of extremely high unemployment to help people in their dealings with government departments and in their search for work. They were a source of information on entitlements, training and job vacancies which nowadays is mostly available on line.
Opened under the auspices of the Drogheda Council of Trades Unions and supported by FAS and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), the Resource Centre had one of the first crèches in Drogheda which meant that when work did materialise childcare was not a problem. A snack bar provided a place for people to gather and have a chat about the day’s events over a coffee or a bite to eat.
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The Centre was supported initially by FÁS and more lately the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) which supplemented a Community Employment Scheme in the centre that catered for over 30 participants overseen by a Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor.
The Centre’s affiliation to the ICTU also meant that they could run training courses and this contributed to its own income which was vital to its existence. The Centre's computer room ran successfully for many years and for many it was their first introduction to the wonderful world of computing and how to find information on line.
The front desk ran an excellent service with advice on a myriad of topics such as writing an application, compiling a CV and more practical things like photocopying which was availed of by many hundreds of people over the years.
The decision to close the Centre was taken by the Board of Management at its June meeting.
Committee Chairman Seamie Briscoe, told Drogheda Life that the Board of Management, having wrestled with numerous problems in recent times, had to make the decision to close its doors.
“The DRC carried out training courses and programmes which came through the influence of Congress. Unfortunately they ceased during the past three years” he explained. “We also had to close our crèche and computer room some time ago”.
“The modern era of IT communications and correspondence seriously diminished our Front Desk service. These were the very fundamentals on which the ‘Resource Centre for the Unemployed’ was set up in the first place. Without these, our income evaporated.
“We have received great support from the DEASP down through the years and this has continued throughout our present difficulties. With their help we will endeavour to facilitate all the Centre’s participants and ensure completion of their training on Community Employment”.
“Many participants and clients have received the benefits of the Resource Centre during its 32 year existence, its services helped many people progress into employment.
“It provided an excellent service to the town in troubled times when advice and training was needed. It also gave great assistance to the disabled and during its time ran many courses which benefited this sector.”
This article was written by Andy Spearman