Minister Griffin launches North, East & West Kerry Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile & Foodshare Kerry Van

Minister Brendan Griffin Launches NEWKD Report & Foodshare Van

Significant Challenges In North East & West Kerry … New Foodshare Van Unveiled!

A new NEWKD report launched on Monday 26th February 2018 by Minister Griffin identifies significant challenges for the North East & West Kerry area, as it reveals profound and structural economic and social challenges facing the locality. The report, which extrapolates data from Census 2016 for every community, highlights significant and growing gaps between this area and the wider region, and it pinpoints areas of particular disadvantage, notably local authority estates and rural communities in the Listowel Municipal District. It also identifies opportunities in respect of investment and the development of the social economy.

Author of the report Dr Brendan O Keefe, Director of The Institute for Action Research, notes that “the area exhibits demographic weakness in that it has an aging population with above average proportions of persons in the older cohorts, and below in all the younger age cohorts.  This is particularly the case in rural areas around Listowel where investment in public service provision has not kept pace with elsewhere.  This ageing of the population is projected to continue, as the area has a higher level of so-called ‘empty nest’ households (12.2%) and lower percentages of families with young children at 8%, compared to 10% nationally. This demographic profile, combined with below average levels of educational attainment represent significant challenges that need to be addressed.  As the data presented in the report illustrate, 32% of the population locally has a third-level qualification, compared with 36% nationally. The data show increased levels of pluri-activity, indicating that growing number of people have more than one job. This has traditionally been more a feature of the labour force in South Kerry, rather than North Kerry, as people combine farming and / or fishing with employment in tourism.  Thus, the data suggest increasing levels of innovation and entrepreneurship locally.

The census data reveal that overall employment has increased across most sectors, as we have emerged from recession, but levels are below the national average, while employment in Agriculture Forestry and Fishing and Public Administration has declined since 2011.  A series of local area maps illustrate that there are significant variations in affluence and deprivation across the region with the three main towns all having significant areas of deprivation.  In Tralee, 6,329 people or 26.7% of the population live in neighbourhoods that are classified as ‘deprived.’  The corresponding figures for  Listowel are 1,852 persons (38.3%) and Castleisland 988 persons (39.3%).  In contrast, Dingle Town emerges as being more affluent than the national and county averages.

This profile was undertaken by NEWKD in order to ascertain the key poverty and social exclusion issues facing the area, and will be used to guide the company’s implementation of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (2018-2022), which is funded by the Department of Rural & Community Development.

Programme manager Robert Carey states that “NEWKDs delivery of the programme 2018-2022 will have a focussed impact on many of the issues highlighted; however the programme is modest in terms of resources. Therefore, it is clear that in order to make significant progress towards making the region more socially inclusive and enhancing the quality of life for communities and individuals, collaborative responses will be required from a number of agencies and other key stakeholders. In addition there is a need for increased resources and investment in the region”

 

Robert also stated that “the Foodshare project, which is having a launch on the same day, is an example of the work supported by NEWKD’s Programmes, and along with other volunteer organisations and individuals, is addressing both food poverty and food wastage”. The Foodshare project recently received Dormant Accounts funding towards the purchase of a new van, and this will also be unveiled.

John Stack, Chairperson of NEWKD pointed out that “the strength of the area is that it has strong community sector with many communities, organisations and projects making valuable contributions towards enhancing people’s lives. This report can be a resource for all in the area ”.

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