SECAD To Launch Free Sustainable Communities Training Programme

Programme Overview

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

SECAD launch a free Sustainable Communities Training Programme that will run in 16 communities across south and west Cork.

  • 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 June 2022 and will provide expert training to 16 successful applicants

Celebrating its official launch on Monday the 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 West Cork communities on ‘Sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’, while the South Cork cohort can access this workshop on 24th 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 groups.

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 adapted 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



SECAD Partnership CLG (SECAD) is a Local Development Company established in 1995. SECAD has two main development objectives: promoting and enabling (i) Rural Development and (ii) Social Inclusion within the communities of South, East and West Cork. SECAD delivers a range of local and community development programmes including LEADER 2014-2020, the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme, the Rural Social Scheme, Tus, PEIL 2014-2020, ERASMUS + and others.
LEADER 2014-2020 is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development- Europe Investing in Rural Areas.

SECAD’s mission is to provide a range of innovative and effective rural development and social inclusion supports to motivate and enable communities to create a more vibrant, sustainable and inclusive society. Their vision is to be a leading European community development organisation delivering exceptional service to clients and promoting innovative collaborations to address issues of disadvantage and sustainability with their public, private, academic and community partners. As a local development company, SECAD works with a range of different clients and stakeholders in rural areas including: community and voluntary groups, disadvantaged target groups, job seekers, businesses (including private and social enterprise), farmers, schools and the corporate sector.

SECAD has evolved as an organisation managing a single funding programme into a platform managing a wide range of funds and services including, social investment and employment support programmes implemented on behalf of a number of Irish Government Departments and State Bodies. SECAD currently delivers a number of major programmes along with other smaller schemes and initiatives. See an overview of under the ‘Programmes & Funds’ tab of this website.
For more information visit

About The Trainers - South Cork

In South Cork, the Sustainable Communities Training Programme will be delivered by a consortium with a wealth of sustainability expertise led by Dr Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray from Change by Degrees and including experts from the MaREI Centre, UCC and Rosemarie MacSweeney, a project manager specialised in Circularity, Sustainability, Built Environment

Change by Degrees inspires and partners with organisations to help them design sustainability solutions that deliver real, measurable results. We provide inspiration for teams through motivational talks and mentoring as well as leadership masterclasses. We shape strategies and action plans that engage employees and volunteers and build their capability and skills. We design employee and community engagement campaigns that are fun and impactful and provide specialised sustainability communications to create messages and content that connect.

Change by Degrees
Change by Degrees is a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardee 2018, a 2019 Women Mean Business Award Finalist and a 2019 Cork Digital Marketing Awards Finalist. Dr Tara Shine has worked in environmental policy in Ireland and internationally for over 20 years and has an understanding of policy frameworks from the UN to local authorities. This is important in helping communities to respond to policy drivers and to benefit from funding streams and emerging legislation. Madeleine Murray specialises in engagement, UX design and communicating sustainability.

MaREI is the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, coordinated by the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) at University College Cork. MaREI’s expertise spans scientific research, social science and stakeholder engagement in sustainability and climate action. The team will be led by Aoife Deane, Communications & Public Engagement Manager

Rosemarie Mac Sweeney
Rosemarie Mac Sweeney is project manager and architect based at the Irish Green Building Council. She has extensive experience in project management within the research, construction, and sustainability sectors. She is a qualified architect with wide ranging professional experience and ability to train others, specializing in sustainability. Rosemarie has proven success in completing projects and leading multi-disciplinary teams to achieve project objectives while meeting deadlines.

Clients and experience (Change by Degrees) –SuperValu, An Post, Cork City Council, MODOS Training for a Sustainable Future, UCC Academy, the National Treasury Management Agency, Gas Networks Ireland, Ervia, Irish Water, IPUT, Poppulo, Dept of the Taoiseach, Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, Dept Rural and Community Affairs, SECAD, BUCANIER project and the Blue Haven Collection.

About The Trainers - West Cork

In West Cork, the Sustainable Communities Training Programme will led by VOICE and will be delivered through a collaboration between VOICE, the Environmental Research Institute, Cork Environmental Forum, the Local Authority Waters Programme, Tipperary Energy Agency, Streamscapes, Farming for Nature, Simon Cork, FoodCloud and Design Republic. Through this consortium, communities participating in the programme will have access to a wide range of experts working withing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure that the programme is truly tailored to the needs and interests of the community itself.

With over twenty years experience in waste and water policy development, public awareness and outreach to communities and companies to encourage behaviour change, VOICE has become one of the leading environmental charities in Ireland. VOICE moves beyond merely running public awareness events and workshops by asking and helping individuals, communities and businesses to become active participants in achieving sustainable change in their local or business environments. VOICE envisions an Ireland where local communities help each other to make Ireland a more sustainable place to work, live and achieve a sense of well-being. With SECAD VOICE aims to build on experience from initiatives such as the Towards Zero Waste Cashel, RAP and Sustainable Communities to develop a framework for a more sustainable future.

Environmental Research Institute
The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) was established in 2000 by University College Cork as a flagship institute to integrate over 400 researchers from 20 University schools and departments and 6 research centres to work together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society. The ERI is based in Cork and as art of this consortium will provide experts in a wide range of disciplines to the communities participating in the Sustainable Communities Training Programme.

Cork Environmental Forum
Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) was established in 1997 to foster, prmote and implement sustainable development at a local level in the Cork region. CEF re experienced in community engagement and currently run the GAP Greener Living Programme working on a community level on sustainability issues across a range of modules. CEF is well placed to provide training and advice to communities participating in the programme.

Local Authority Waters Programme
The core focus of the work of the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWCO) is to protect and improve water quality in rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters. Good water quality, and a healthy water environment, is vital for human health and a myriad of wildlife. The Communities Team supports communities and stakeholders in the delivery of local water quality projects and initiatives and includes a Community Water Officer for the Cork Region.

Tipperary Energy Agency
Tipperary Energy Agency has a proven ability in enabling people, communities and the public sector to become more sustainable in their energy use. They have vast experience in the areas of Community Energy, Renewable Energy, Energy Management and Energy in Buildings. They have worked with several communities on a wide variety of community energy projects including pioneering community wind farms and housing retrofit programmes.

The multiple award-winning StreamScapes Project is Ireland’s original environmental education programme. StreamScapes is based in County Cork and designs and produces Community Engagement projects for Catchments right around Ireland. StreamScapes is the Winner of the 2017 IPB/LAMA Award for ‘Most Significant Contribution to Water Quality’

Farming for Nature
Farming for Nature is an independent, not-for-profit initiative which aims to support high nature value farming in Ireland. It was set up to encourage and support farmers that are or wish to include nature more in their farming practices.

Simon Cork and FoodCloud
Eoin MacCuirc works for the Central Statistics Office and is a board member of Simon Cork and founding member of FoodCloud. He has experience in : strategic planning, operating withing tight budgets, management to deadlines (and crisis management were necessary) and the application of modern leadership methods in both decision-making and target-setting, clarity in communication and a relaxed interpersonal style

Design Republic
Design Republic are a team of architects and graphic designers based in West Cork. With experience in developing urban and rural generation plans and engaging with local authorities.

Suzie Cahn
Suzie Cahn is a project management trainer working within community development, previously with An Cosán community education initiative.

VOICE previous clients / experience
VOICE Recycling Ambassadors Programme, Conscious Consumption Communities, Towards Zero Waste Cashel; Dublin Circle City, No Home for Plastic; Picker Pals; Upgrading Shared Bin Experience; Conscious Cup Campaign; Dublin City Council Apartment Pilot; Lunch and Learn Workshops; Sick of Plastic; ReCircle Ireland.