Helping community and voluntary organisations to grow and flourish!community_2

Career & Influences

Paul O’Raw has worked in the community and voluntary sector for over 25 years. As a community development worker he has worked in a number of settings which have shaped and formed his approach to development work and group development.

  • Paul was the Community Development Coordinator with South Kerry Development Partnership for 14 years. This role focussed on addressing social exclusion and involved working with community groups, state agencies and non-government organisations to develop collaboration and partnership responses. Paul was responsible for designing and implementing the Community Development elements of a number of Social Inclusion Programmes during that period.
  • Paul supported the development of community projects in large council estates in Dublin for more than 10 years in Loughlinstown and North Clondalkin. He coordinated schemes and projects that assisted the long-term unemployed develop skills and confidence, while also providing valuable services to the local communities.
  • As a Development Volunteer Paul supported the establishment and development of a rural credit union in an isolated community in Ecuador, South America. This enabled local people to avail of affordable loans for agriculture, small business, health and education.

All of this work is based on a community development approach, working with local voluntary organisations to address disadvantage and exclusion.


…activity without reflection can be fruitless!


As a development worker Paul pursued accredited and non-accredited education and training to develop his skills, knowledge and understanding of development work and the role of the worker.

  • Academic; NUI Maynooth; Diploma in Continuing Education and BA (Hons 1st ) in Community Studies
  • Working with Groups; A number of facilitation skills training courses with Meitheal Training, up to Train The Trainer; Partners/ Training for Transformation. On-going skills development and creative facilitation for working in transformational change; Introduction to Group Dynamics with Group Analytic Practice, Dublin
  • Fetac 6 Train The Trainer
  • Certificate in Mediation Skills and member of Mediators Institute of Ireland
  • Orientation progamme in development work overseas with Viatores Christi and Certificate in Development Studies at Development Studies Centre Kimmage Manor


These career experiences, education, training and on-going meetings-4professional development have led to the following approaches and principles underpinning the services and supports Paul offers to groups and organisations;


Facilitating groups to learn, to reflect, to change and to plan

Using a range of exercises and creative methods to ensure training is enjoyable and productive

Based on the principle of experiential learning; building on the experience of the group

Group work that facilitates the participation and contribution of all

Facilitating the group to reach a consensus and agreed outcomes

Training and mentoring are prepared to meet the specific needs of organisations


Development is about people.community-3

Whether it is community development, local development, rural development etc, people must be at the centre – if people don’t change then their situation is not likely to change. Relationships are at the heart of this work; with people and with organisations and agencies. In this sense, personal development is a core element of organisational development.


 Group Developmentfacilitator

Organisations depend on committees and sub-groups to do the work. It can’t be assumed that by simply appointing a committee that the work will get done, or will get done as well as it should. There are a range of skills and knowledge that individuals need to be able to function well and contribute to getting the work done. Groups do their thinking, evaluating and planning through meetings, therefore the quality of meetings is vital. Training for groups can involve both ‘hard’ skills and ‘soft’skills and can include topics such as committee skills, governance, evaluation, critical thinking etc


bycycleTask & Process (the 2 wheels of the bike)

Groups and organisations are dynamic entities (unless of course they are static or even stagnant and slowly fading!) Just as a piece of equipment needs maintenance, so do organisations if they are to remain relevant and dynamic. Many individuals and organisations tend to be task-focussed – ‘get the job done’ and this is important. But equally important is how we get the task done, this is often called the process, but is quite often neglected, leaving organisations wondering why they aren’t as efficient or as successful as they could be. Paying attention to the balance of task and process helps avoid problems.


The Learning Cycle or the Goldfish Syndromeplanning strategy-fish

All groups and organisations can slip into habits and practices of doing the work in a certain way, even if at times it is not the best way. We can be like the Goldfish Syndrome, happily going round in circles from one year to the next, or learning from experience and improving. Taking time out in a structured manner provides time and space to reflect on experience, to learn lessons and to make appropriate changes.


Community and Equality are Good for us!

There are plenty of studies providing hard evidence that having a strong sense of community and having a more equal society is good for us. All we have to do is look around us and we can see examples of the consequences of a weakened sense of community and high levels of inequality. Healthy organisations and groups play a key role in building up our sense of belonging to a community and to a higher degree of inclusion and equality for all.


moonInfluencing Change

People and communities experiencing disadvantage, isolation or exclusion are in the best position to describe what it’s like, and are therefore well informed to develop responses to their situation. It makes sense then to facilitate the participation of groups and organisations in planning and decision-making. Networking, collaborating and partnership can help in the development of better solutions and outcomes. Training can help members of voluntary groups to take part alongside paid professionals and contribute to influencing change.

Paul O’Raw      pjoraw@hotmail.com     Mob 087 2317204