Digital Inclusion Through Training Is Key To Community Health And Wellbeing.

This is the story of the role the Family Resource Centre in Killaloe is playing in my recovery to an active and fulfilling life while combatting social isolation and exclusion as a result of my illness, acute asthma, COPD and the after effects of a severe stroke in 1997.

On being discharged from Nass general hospital in September 2012,  I moved into an apartment in Killaloe in preparation for my death or my next emergency hospitalisation whichever would come first.

In Killaloe, I was fortunate that the Family Resource Centre has a community cafe where anyone can drop in and have a  cup of coffee and a chat with other locals or the Family Resource Centre community duty officer.

In my case I was very fortunate that a TUS participant, Noreen Neary, was tidying up the entrance hall when she noticed me standing outside once again unsure and afraid to ask for see this was the fourth day I stood outside the center gasping for breath,  unsure and extremly fragile both physically and emotionally after two and a half years of multible hospitalisations diagnosed as acute COPD and chronic asthma.

It is impossible to describe how vulnerable and afraid a protracted chronic pulmonary illness coupled with the residual symptoms of a previous severe stroke effects the day to day life of what was previously a confident and able international Internet Technologist and serial entrepreneur managing cutting edge global ICT projects with multiple teams of developers.

Suffice it to say that without a welcoming and inviting smile from Noreen Neary on that fateful day along with the time and attention that Brona Moriarity gave to me as she dropped everything from her busy schedual and sat with me and explained that I had now found a new non-judgmental extended community family of friends where I would always be welcome.

After that morning instead of sitting in my apartment window looking out across the river afraid to venture outside wondering to myself is this it, is this what my life has come to, sitting on my own each day wondering was tonight the night the grim reaper would visit and put me out of my misery by drowning me in the fluid filling my lungs as I tried to sleep sitting up each night.

At this stage it would have been a happy release after two and a half years of illness after illness while sitting up in bed trying not to fall asleep each night afraid of drowning in the mucus filling my lungs.

With the small amount of oxagen going to my brain coupled with the drugs, steroids, antibiotics and inhalers and nebulisers, i was taking daily, my view of the world had become that of a manic depressive.

It was against this backdrop i arrived at the community cafe the following morning and Brona introduced me to Paul Ryan the Citizens advice beaureau advisor with whom I recounted my sorry story.

Paul was a breath of fresh air as he pointed out that in fact I was fortunate to have a roof over my head and food in my belly , a warm bed to sleep in and children and grandchildren that visited with me and who were concerned for my wellbeing.

He made an appointment for me to meet with a MABS officer Denis Corbett and take stock of what I owed and start the process of dealing with my life as it was, not as I would like it to be and also arranged for me to meet with Andy Scannlan the local Community Welfare Officer who was most respectful and helpful in getting all the necessary forms filled in to access the  social welfare entitlements I was eligible for as an Irish Citizen with a lifetime of contributions.

With daily action and facing up to the reality of my situation, I began the slow process of reducing my stress levels until one day a month or so later i realised that I needed help coping emotionally and here again the FRC by way of Kees Dudson came to my assistance by arranging FREE counselling sessions with Susanne Lightbourne who allowed me that safe space to work through the many challenging issues i now faced on the long journey of working my way through  the chaotic emotional, physical and financial wreckage I now faced.

It was about this time that i had what was to be my last emergency hospitalisation to date when Dr Berni Lynch my GP had me admitted to the Limerick Regional Hospital's Emergency Medical Unit as a result of a threatened cardiac infraction brought on from stress related breathing difficulties.

On been released a personal friend and pharmacist coach Rachel Dungan advised me that if i didn't get physiotherapy and deal with the stress immediately on release i would never break the strangle hold the pharma industry and medical system had over me with my  continuing daily prescribed drugs, antibiotics and steroids.

These same drugs that were keeping me alive and breathing  between hospitalisations had already been responsible for weakening my kidneys to the point they were unable to clear the toxins from my blood thereby causing another set of problems, kidney stones, fluid retention, obesity and more potential cardiac infractions from stress.

This is where the KBFRC again came to my assistance by way of Tracey Doyle another staff member who arranged for me to visit a renowned private physiotherapist and bio-energy practitioner Adriana Tschlova who had extensive experience in treating acute breathing difficulties, with over twenty years experience in physiotherapy in Bulgaria at Sofia general hospital before being head hunted  by Dr Carmody to the Tinarana Health Spa twelve years previously.

This was the beginning of my journey that takes me to here telling my story and attempting to give back to the community as an extremely grateful Family Resource Center Community Volunteer.

Having sat each day in the community center cafe and joined in the banter and craic with staff members and locals like myself I have developed a unique relationship and perspective regarding community and in particular the role Family Resource Center's play in local communities throughout Ireland and how that role can be extended to play a central role in the current disruptive technology education,healthcare and social initiatives being rolled out by progressive European government ministries.

Kess Dudson the chief operations officer of the KBFRC has been a patient mentor over the past 12 months as he explained the difference between community based  initiatives and profit based initiatives.  I now understand the difference to be, corporate initiatives use PROFIT as the yardstick they measure success by, whereas community initiatives use INCLUSION as the yardstick they measure success by.

I can tell you here and now that before I could get my head around that shift myself and Kees spent many a long evening in heated exchange as I challenged the validity, sanity and potential of this paradigm shift from PROFIT to INCLUSION being a value proposition as a socio economic system I could buy into and commit  to.

Suffice it to say he has made a believer out of me, so much so that I am now committed to using my lifetimes experience in business and technology to use that knowledge to create INCLUSION and social entrepreneurship in my local community of killaloe/Ballina where I now call HOME.

To that end I have begun a journey of teaching local Non-Liners and Silver Sufers through Minister White's Dept. of Communication Benifit4 ICT program on how to harness web3 mobile technologies trough community education, using it as the cornerstone of a  true local eCommunity while opening the possibility of connecting to other similar local eCommunities globally trough existing ubiquitous and pervasive web2 cloud based technologies.

At the core of this community volunteer social entrepreneur initiative are some base truths-
1. Every Skill is Learnable (Chris Farrell)
2. When we know better we do better (Ray Nangle)
3. It is better to teach a person the skill of fishing than to feed their hunger by giving them food to sate their hunger.(Unknow Author)
4. There is no point in teaching people skills they have no interest in.(Threasa KBFRC)
5 Online training is now the largest growth market in the world (Chris Farrell).
6. Practical progression paths of defined steps from unemployed to employed must be implemented using Train The Trainer (BIQ) FETAC L6  path to the Digital Inclusion Community Mobile Classroom teaching Benefit4 to groups of 5 persons in a local social envoirnment. This is a true sustainable progressive social entrepreneur Initiative currently being rolled out by volunteers in the Killaloe Ballina Family Resource Centre  in association with their local TUS supervisor Brendan Burke.

The social entrepeneaur iniatiave evolves around the Digital inclusion stratagy of the Dept of Communication and FIT / Localworlds where the Benefit4 program is been rolled out across the country helping the Final Fifth get On-Line

In order to give back to the cash strapped Family Resource Centre I decided to use my skills to apply for an allocation of 85 seats at €50 per head be allocated to the Family Resource Centre by Helen Mahon in FIT and offer my services free to the centre as a certified trainer to deliver these 85 seats to core staff and locals.

This Iniatiave has had five positive outcomes.
1. 85 local people were trained using the Certified Benefit4 training program in using the internet and going online.
2. KBFRC received €4,250 in cash as a result of my donating my services.
3. Ray Nangle found the discipline of delivering live training to be both therapeutic and inclusive and the exercise of giving back to my local community rewarding.
4.  One of the course participants Trish Bourke asked how she could become a trainer and teach others in the same way I had done. Her TUS supervisor Brendan Burke  organised for her to do the train the trainer L6 under the TAT scheme and now she has received her FETAC level 6 qualification with distinction and has taken over from me and is currently delivering Benefit4 to the next 100 local participants generating a further €5,000 revenue for the centre while giving her much needed front of class experience in preparation for her next step to full employment as an accredited trainer with experience. Her success has already inspired another fellow TUS worker and Benefit4 participant to follow in her footsteps and is now started on their journey to become a certified trainer.
5. Having seen this cycle of progression ignited I started to look at how I could lead again by example and create a path forward from unemployed to giving back to sustainable employment.
This I have now completed by setting up the LOCALWORLDS COMMUNITY MOBILE DIGITAL CLASSROOM project. The LCMDC project is funded by the DSP BTWEA scheme where each long term unemployed person that becomes a certified trainer is given the LCMDC business plan template to apply for the funding for there own 5 LCMDC Mobile Wireless Tablets and MIFI dongle required for delivering Benefit4 training as a social activity in the same manner as Sugata Mitra pioneered in India.

The LCMDC is a sustainable social entrepreneur enterprise where a Beneft4 trainer delivers training in participants local area with mobile wireless tablets connected to the internet with MIFI dongles.(NO Wires No Plugs etc)
This model addresses current Benefit4 classroom size challenges in the amount of one on one training required to teach each Benefit4 participant. The social based kitchen table learning environment of the LCMDC model provides a unique safe and inclusive learning environment for everyone. (This model draws on proven results from The Hole In The Wall teaching model pioneered by Prof. Sugata Mitra in India)
The financial reward to the trainer for teaching each 8 hours of training is €25 per hour €200 for the four 2 hour sessions paid for by Benefit4 funding trough Localworlds direct to the volunteer trainer. (This amount of €200 for delivering four training sessions and the cost of traveling to peoples area may not seem a viable amount to pay a qualified trainer. You would be correct in that assumption if you are looking at this from a commercial perspective however the LCMDC trainer's perspective is not that of your normal teacher earning a commercial wage but that of a TUS volunteer who for the previous year has been living on €20 above her social welfare entitlements so €200 pw is in fact a 10 fold increase in his/her income from the base line she was on for the previous year.
Of course this reward is not sustainable as a commercial model and that is where the next step is now been implemented by Ray Nangle in his LCMDC BTWEA venture.

The real sustainable commercial aspect of this Iniatiave is the weekend intensive courses run once a month for companies wanting to start their own online business This course is privately funded by each company participant and marketed using the teachings of Ray Nangle, Steve Blank and Chris Farrell on How To Build A Digital Startup Business. This is the proven commercial progression path to full sustainable employment for each TUS community volunteer signing up for this journey trough this real community volunteer social entrepreneur Iniatiave.
This model gives the entrepreneur
 3 distinct lines of income.
1. The LCMDC 8 hours per week = €800 PM
2. The Digital Business Startup Intensive Weekend 10xNet 400 = €4,000 PM
3. Online sales from affiliate products ??????
The result is that from unemployment to sustainable employment including Digital Inclusion there is now a step by step proven pathway to full employment with a global market of the next 5 billion sitting there waiting to be inspired by what has been done in Ireland The Home Of The Internet Giants and Social Entrepeneaurism.

After The 28th March 2015>>>>>NEXT CHAPTER>>>>>My Journey To Living A Conscious Soulful Life