Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, has officially opened Galway’s new one stop shop for social welfare payments, serving the city and the majority of the county as well.
The new Intreo Centre in Galway city at Fairgreen Road provides a full range of social welfare services that had previously been provided from five separate offices throughout the city.
Now, customers, for the first time, have a single point of contact in one location in Galway city. The catchment area for this new Intreo Centre is Galway city and its hinterland including east to Oranmore and Athenry, north to Claregalway and towards Headford and West including Oughterard and most of South Connemara and the Aran Islands.
Some 150 Department of Social Protection staff are based in the Intreo Centre which is headed up by Divisional Manager, Eoin Brown. Almost 16,000 customers will be assisted through this office which includes income supports and tailored employment supports for jobseekers.
The new Intreo service in Galway will reduce waiting times for jobseeker payments, significantly improve customer service and, for the staff, the working environment has been transformed.
“Intreo has been a key element of the Government’s response to the high unemployment levels and it supports the objectives set out in Pathways to Work strategy to tackle unemployment. It links the payment of income supports with supports offered to jobseekers in their efforts trying to find work,” the Tánaiste said.
“The type of support provided by Intreo is customised to each person’s skills, experience and qualifications. A tailored progression plan is discussed and agreed by the jobseeker and their case officer.
“Intreo Galway provides a one-stop-shop for jobseekers where they can get their income and employment supports in the one place for the first time. Previously, the Department’s services were situated in five different locations around the city,” she added.
The Tánaiste acknowledged the support of employers in Galway city and its environs in working with the Department of Social Protection by offering placements for jobseekers.
A team of 19 Activation Case Officers are currently working in Intreo in Galway with jobseekers.
There’s a broad range of employment supports available to jobseekers and local employers are key to the effectiveness of these supports. Recent recruitment drives include collaboration with the Irish Hotels Federation and a number of local agencies and nursing homes.
In Galway, five companies have registered for the First Steps Youth Development Internship to date while 31 companies across the county have signed up to the Employment and Youth Activation Charter.
“This new Intreo Centre in Galway is an excellent example of how the Department of Social Protection has moved on from being a passive financial pay-hatch of old to a pro-active support for its customers.
“I am very pleased to see the Department and local employers engaging with each other, both with the same objective, to help create work and improve the standards of living for all society,” added the Tánaiste.
Scheme for accountants to earn while they learn
A former NUIG Arts student and part-time waitress is helping to fill a gap in the market for accountants in the West – thanks to a change of heart and a pioneering scheme that allowed her to get paid to learn her craft!
Donegal native Roisin McFadden (24) originally moved to Galway to study for an Arts degree – but she quickly found her interests swayed to accountancy.
So now Roisin is complementing her three-year job in book accounts with the Accounting Technician Apprenticeship scheme – a funded, work-based learning programme in which locally-placed apprentices will earn at least €19,000 a year. Roisin is working with Denis Brennan & Co. in Prospect Hill in Galway.
Apprentices work in the office four days a week and study in a local college one day a week during the two-year programme, which begins in September.
“I was at college full-time and waitressing part-time. I was exhausted, but the course just didn’t suit me,” she said.
“I didn’t want to waitress for the rest of my life, so I applied for a job with Denis Brennan & Co with zero experience, and luckily, they took me on.
“When the letter for the course at Galway Technical Institute came into the office, my bosses encouraged me to go for it.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Advice for landlords and tenants after RPZ expansion
The inclusion of two new Local Electoral Areas on Galway’s Rent Pressure Zones list brings to five the regions of the city and county now covered under a state scheme that caps rent increases for tenants to under four per cent a year.
The expanded RPZs – to include the Local Electoral Areas of Athenry-Oranmore and Gort-Kinvara – came into force at the beginning of July, the first time that areas in the county were included in the designation.
And now the Residential Tenancies Board is anxious that both landlords and tenants in Galway to know their rights.
The addition of two more areas brings to five the number of RPZs in the city and county – Galway City Central LEA, Galway City East LEA, Galway City West LEA, Athenry-Oranmore LEA and Gort-Kinvara LEA.
The inclusion of Athenry-Oranmore and Gort-Kinvara was made on foot of their standardised average rent of €975.21 and 975.20 per month respectively – and this places their rent above the average rent for the ‘Rest of the Country (Outside Greater Dublin Area)’ which is €841.49.
For full story see this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway business hits new heights with eBay
A Galway cosmetics company is one of 50 businesses across the country who collectively reached a combined €1 million in online sales – just four months into a pioneering eBay programme.
Rí na Mara Irish Seaweed Cosmetics, based in Spiddal, is reaping the rewards of its involvement in this Retail Expansion Programme, an eBay initiative launched to support Irish SMEs.
The programme, which commenced in March, was developed by eBay to help local Irish businesses reach new audiences in Ireland and around the world. The initiative is a partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the Design and Craft Council of Ireland.
More than 50 businesses in Ireland, including Galway’s Rí Na Mara, joined the pilot programme, with many reporting an uplift in overall sales of between five and twenty per cent.
The Connemara company, which creates organic skincare made from Irish seaweed, reported a five per cent increase in sales since joining the initiative, just four months ago.
For full story see this week’s Connacht Tribune.