First setup in 2013, the Stepping Stones award is an annual award scheme to support all residents and authorised people living in Clúid and Clann homes who wish to pursue self-improvement courses, skills courses, diploma or degree courses. Interesting, you might say, what does that mean for me? Well, if you have been considering taking a first step and applying for a course to increase your skills, such a course with a college of further education, and could benefit from some financial assistance, maybe Stepping Stones is for you. Past awardees of Stepping Stones have pursued a wide range of courses from flower arranging, jewelry making, radio broadcasting, addiction studies, to Shamanic practitioner.

Fausat Salami who is cooking up a storm on the Crumlin College Culinary Arts – Professional Cookery course has taken that step to make a change.

“ It will help me to become a qualified chef, I have been thinking and wanted to be all my life.”

Grainne O’Rourke who qualified as an advanced Reiki practitioner had this to say about her experience.

“Over the past 2 years from doing the reiki level 1,2,3 it has changed my life . It has introduced mindfulness into my daily life and I have become a better person because of it. ….. Reiki has helped me through tough times and has changed my outlook on life…..”

Stepping Stones has made over three hundred awards since 2013. Last year in 2023 we made awards valuing €21,220 to twenty-four people. Maybe 2024 will be your year to take a step and you could be one of our awardees.

Stepping Stones opens for applications in July each year: you will see information in the Summer newsletter to residents and you can check the link to the application form on the Stepping Stones Award webpage. The deadline for applications is generally in the first week of September.

If you were to apply for Stepping Stones you would find that the form is very straightforward, it asks for information around previous education, the course that is being applied for, how long it runs for and the cost. It also asks for some information about why you are applying for Stepping Stones and what impact you think it will have for you in your life. These are important questions as they help the judging panel to understand you, and why you want to do the course you are applying for. Here’s what some former recipients of Stepping Stones had to say.

“This course will be the first stepping stone for me. Anatomy and physiology will be very helpful for a possible career direction. I would really like to work in the holistic care area, aromatherapy and massage.”

“I really want to move up in life, to educate myself, to give my sons and I a good secure life. Also, to show the boys it is never too late to return to education.”

“The course will help me have a better life for myself and my sons. I will also be able to give back to the community because I want to do the work in my community.”

This course will help in a variety of ways. The first one is that as the girls get older and I will be able to find full-time employment, I will be able to get a job with a higher wage and not a minimum wage, physical labour job as I have been working.

Once applications close for Stepping Stones a panel of three judges reviews the applications and makes awards. Each application is considered in its own right and this is where a good explanation of your circumstance and why you are applying for Stepping Stones is very important as it helps to give an understanding of you.

The level of award varies for different courses, for example for personal and career development courses we can provide assistance up to €500 for one year: For third level courses where people do not have access to a SUSI grant an SVP bursary or a credit union loan, we can provide assistance up to €1,000 for one year. If a course is over two or more years it is possible to apply each year for support from Stepping Stones.

Here are a couple of quotes from two people who have previously received a Stepping Stones award.

“I am so delighted to get this help towards completing my studies and the costs around that. I have set up the first and only mental health and peer support centre in Mayo through my studies.”

“This course – and getting into it – has quite literally changed my life.”

Maybe you would like to take on a course to make a change in your life. This year’s Stepping Stones will be open for applications from July. Get that thinking cap on and be ready to make an application.

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