Career & Influences

Paul O’Raw is a free-lance community facilitator with over 25 years’ experience, providing a range of supports to community and voluntary organisations.  Paul develops training programmes and facilitated sessions on behalf of local development companies,  local authorities, agencies and independent groups and organisations, involved in community and voluntary services. As a community development worker he has worked in a number of settings which have shaped and formed his approach to community development work and organisational 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 over 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 has pursued accredited and non-accredited education and training to develop his skills, knowledge and understanding of development work and  facilitation.

  • 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 forworking 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 teams, groups and communities to learn, to reflect, to change and to plan

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

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

Group work that facilitates the participation and contribution of all

Facilitating the group to work towards 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. Relationships are at the heart of this work; with people, with organisations and with agencies. In this sense, personal development is a core element of organisational development. Ownership, empowerment and partnership are key themes in this regard.


 Group Developmentfacilitator

Groups can learn new skills and procedures to enable them to improve their work and their effectiveness. The skills of planning, monitoring, reviewing, evaluating and consultation etc can be learned and developed by groups (committees, boards, teams etc). On-going reflection and learning help those involved to improve their work as a group and thereby improve the services and facilities they provide to individuals and to communities.


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. This is like the Goldfish Syndrome, happily going round in circles from one year to the next, not learning from experience.  This is a missed opportunity. 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 the-spirit-levelof community and having a more equal society is good for us. The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better was published in 2009. Written by Kare Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, the book highlights the ‘pernicious effects that inequality has on societies; eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, and encouraging excessive consumption’

We can see examples of the consequences of high levels of inequality around us eg in housing, education, disability, minority groups etc. Healthy groups and organisations can play a key role in valuing equality and building up community.




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