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Funded by the International Fund for Ireland’s Communities in Partnership Programme (£104,979), Cross-Border: enACTing cooperation (CBenACT) is a pilot collaboration between the Centre for Cross Border Studies, Creative Spark (Dundalk) and Women’s Tec (Newry).

Its objectives are: 

  • the strengthening of the capacity to engage in progressive and sustainable cross-border cooperation through the provision of the specific skills necessary to deliver cross-border projects of meaningful benefit for communities on both sides of the border; 
  • the embedding of an approach to cross-border cooperation that sees it as central to organisations’ work rather than as peripheral to their core missions; and 
  • increasing mutual understanding and awareness of issues and challenges affecting communities on both sides of the border, particularly those with the potential to impact on cross-border relations and mobility. 

This 18-month project will also lead to the design and initial implementation of a cross-border collaboration between Creative Spark and Women’s Tec, with a focus on the cross-border sharing of resources and skills to deliver training for women in non-traditional skills (e.g. plumbing, carpentry, tiling, electrics, for example), women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths/Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (STEM/STEAM), as well as climate action as an area for community capacity-building.

It will also produce an online repository of training material for the development of cross-border cooperation projects that will be available on the CCBS website for use by other organisations beyond the lifetime of this project.

Roisin’s story

Roisin O’Hanlon is part of Lislea Lively Ladies. She worked as a bank official but over the past ten years her role has changed, and she is now a carer for her husband and grandchildren. When her youngest grandchild went to school, a family member suggested she get involved in something for her. It was around this time that one of the members of the Lislea Lively ladies told her about the Group. Consequently, Roisin became involved after seeing photos of the Project activities on Facebook. She felt that the pace of the projects suited her lifestyle and personal commitments. It was through this involvement that Roisin was introduced to the CBenACT Programme. She had never been involved in a cross-border projects before. Roisin particularly enjoyed the cross border meet ups and in particular, the ‘hands on’ element of the project, namely the laser cutting in Creative Spark followed by the WOMENS TEC skills session in Lislea where she got to use a saw, a drill and other tools for the first time to make her coaster. Roisin sees her involvement in the Project as ‘Me Time’ and is delighted with the coaster she made. Roisin sees her coaster as representing a story of pride and self-confidence as a result of her journey on the CBenACT Programme.

Grace’s story

Seun Grace Atiroko is the founder of Future Stars Parents Group which supports children with disabilities and their families, and Women Intercultural Network in Dundalk. She is mum to seven children and is a community development worker, Special Needs Assistant, and Business Strategist. Grace is interested in tech. She said she really learned a lot – and used a drill for the first time. Grace looked into STEAM opportunities which promotes girls’ opportunities – science, technology, engineering, art and maths are not just for boys – it all depends on the individual’s passions. The group spoke to female mechanics and people in the group were able to get to try DIY. Listening to experiences and perspectives of others inspires Grace to do more for her family and community. She thinks that individuals should believe in themselves more. Grace said it was wonderful to get chatting to the other women and having the time and opportunity of getting to know other women. The project participants were able to discover issues that affect them such as childcare and possible solutions in which women can be engaged. The women made coasters, and she shared the experience and process with her children.

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