Change by Degrees to deliver free sustainable community training programme for South Cork

SECAD Sustainable Communities photo May 2021


  • Programme is free of charge for community groups, volunteers and businesses
  • Promotes the development of sustainable communities in social, environmental and economic terms
  • Runs from May 2021 to September 2022 and will provide expert training to 16 successful applicants

Celebrating its official launch today (Monday 10th May), 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 commence on 24th May with an online introductory workshop for South Cork communities on ‘Sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’, while the West Cork cohort can access this workshop on 26th May. Both seminars kick off at 7pm and will provide an overview of the broader programme, as well as introducing the trainers involved; namely VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment) who will be collaborating with West Cork’s participants and Change by Degrees who will work with the South Cork communities.

Following the introductory modules, SECAD will invite applications from communities across South and West Cork to take part in the full Sustainable Communities Training Programme, with a view to selecting 16 applicants who will develop detailed community-led sustainability plans throughout 2021 and 2022. The successful groups will receive support in bringing together a diverse Community Development Team, which can include key community volunteers associated with existing community organisations and members of the business community. A specific focus will be placed on diversity within the group in terms of ethnicity, family structure, disability, age and gender.

Each team will work with the expert trainers on specific areas of concern, such as developing detailed plans for legacy projects and carrying out a skills audit to address skills gaps, while implementing recruitment policies to address these gaps. The community groups will also receive project management skills training adopted from private sector models.

The core programme will run until June 2022, beginning in September with a series of weekly workshops that will cover a wide range of important sustainability topics. The community groups involved will be supported throughout as they build their sustainability plans, before finally presenting their work as part of a showcase in autumn 2022.

This latest initiative follows SECAD’s 2019-20 ‘My Town, My Plan’ programme, during which eight communities (Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Rosscarbery, Kinsale, Carrigaline, Youghal, Cobh and Midleton) started a process of planning for their local area. Commenting as the programme launched, Ryan Howard, CEO of SECAD Partnership CLG said: “Our biggest aim with the Sustainable Communities Training Programme and its workshops is to raise awareness in communities about sustainable development ideas, challenges and solutions. Our highly experienced trainers and speakers will provide information and create conversations around the actions that can be taken at individual, household, group, business, community and regional level to address climate, biodiversity and waste issues among others.”
He added: “Through the programme, we are offering communities a chance to identify key projects and develop plans that will be of benefit to all ages over the medium and long term. We are passionate about recruiting enthusiastic volunteers and developing skills that will last a lifetime.”

The closing date to register for the introductory workshops is 24th May.

For further information on the SECAD Sustainable Communities Training Programme, and to register please visit