The new My Journey: Distance Travelled Tool is set to launch, but what can be learned from its introduction event?

My Journey logo

After 18 months of development, the new two-page My Journey: Distance Travelled Tool toolkit is set to launch tomorrow (30 January) in Dublin 7.

In an event chaired by Pobal executive director Paul Skinnader, My Journey will finally be unveiled to the broad community of local development companies (LDCs), with a wide-reaching selection of speakers invited to offer their thoughts on the new toolkit.

The My Journey tool – developed specifically by Pobal and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) as companion material for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme 2018–2022 – takes the form of a series of questions that, it is hoped, will guide people towards identifying their needs and planning for their future, allowing LDCs to further engage with and support those individuals who face challenges in life.

The toolkit will be introduced by DRCD secretary general Kevin McCarthy and Pobal CEO Anna Shakespeare. Other speakers include former Mountjoy Prison governor John Lonergan, who will talk about the importance of personal journeys, and Northside Partnership CEO Paul Rogers, who will touch on how LDCs manage change.

Kevin McCarthy, Department of Rural and Community Development secretary general

Kevin McCarthy, Department of Rural and Community Development secretary general.

A panel discussion will turn the conversation back to My Journey. Led by Caroline Gardner (CEO, Quality Matters), it will feature as panellists: Professor Catherine Comiskey (School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin); Monaghan County Council’s LCDC chief officer, Fintan McPhillips; Paul Partnership’s coordinator of social programmes, Helen Fitzgerald; and Louth LEADER Partnership project coordinator Ina McCrumlish.

Sinéad Quinn, Social Inclusion and Communities Unit assistant principal at DRCD, will lead attendees in a session on the key principles and implementation supports of the new toolkit.

During the My Journey pilot phase, 15 LDCs around Ireland were invited to trial the toolkit. Those gathered for tomorrow’s event will hear about these LDCs’ experiences in one of the workshops running in the early afternoon, while other workshops will cover implementation supports, utilising the tool’s data, and wider applications of My Journey.

Anna Shakespeare, CEO, Pobal

Anna Shakespeare, CEO, Pobal.

The positive impacts of the toolkit are already being reported. In Changing Ireland’s Winter issue, we heard the story of a Limerick-based immigrant in her 50s who became sick after 10 years of working in Ireland, losing her job and encountering “insurmountable” challenges as a result.

Through My Journey: Distance Travelled Tool, this woman received help in prioritising her issues and helping her plan her future. Limerick City Community Development Project’s Ann Bourke, the community worker who worked with this woman was enthused by the toolkit.

“It was amazing,” said Bourke. It was very positive for me and for her, and she came up with a plan.”

The woman is still receiving support and is progressing.

My Journey has also garnered international interest. The OECD has invited Irish representative to Paris to explain how the toolkit works and discuss the validation process.

Interested in reading more about the state of Ireland’s community development sector? Check out our latest issue.

Main photo: Clemens van Lay/Unsplash