Background to CLAY

Based in Lower Crumlin, we’re a community-based Youth Project. Clay provides a range of services to enhance life skills and opportunities for 100 young people in the area, including targeted young people. Clay has an energetic and dynamic team of youth workers, and support staff, who have the passion and commitment to work with young people and the community to fulfil our vision and goals:

  1. Working with young people to identify and overcome barriers in their lives.
  2. Helping them plan to get where they want to be.
  3. Building self confidence and self-esteem.
  4. Helping them to make more positive choices.

We run 3 programmes as follows:

  1. Youth Work Programme:
    • This is a planned programme of informal education designed to aid and enhance the personal and social development of our young people through their voluntary involvement.
  2. Youth Justice Programme (Garda Youth Diversion Project):
    • These are youth development projects which seek to divert young people from becoming involved (or further involved) in anti-social or criminal behaviour. These projects facilitate personal development and promote civic responsibility.
  3. Employability Programme:
    • This programme helps to improve young people’s confidence and communication skills, providing them with pathways to employment, work experience and work placements with an ultimate goal of increasing their employment and further education prospects.

Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures

Our services are aligned with The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020 – Better Outcomes Brighter Futures (BOBF) The five national outcomes we want for all children and young people are that they are:

  1. Active and healthy with physical and mental well being
  2. Achieving full potential in all areas of learning and development
  3. Safe and protected from harm
  4. Have economic security and opportunity
  5. Connected, respected and contributing to their world.

Governance Improvement Initiative

Clay created its first Risk Register in 2016. This Risk Register was created by means of a risk identification exercise with the participation of the Board and employees of Clay. This was new process for us and was introduced after the Board passed a Risk Management Policy. Since its creation, many other Youth Projects in Dublin have leveraged Clay’s Risk Register as a template.

The Risk Register created a culture where risks can be openly discussed within Clay and has driven a wide range of improvement actions. Devising and deploying this systematic approach supported the way the Project assessed and progressed change in a variety of operational areas. These actions resulted in tangible enhancements within Clay across a wide range of areas.

Some examples include:

Risk Mitigations and Improvements
Financial risk of a dependency on 2 main sources of funding and a lack of contingency funds. A Clay director was recruited with sales and fundraising expertise and this has resulted in an additional €75,000 being sourced from other grants and funding streams in 2018.
Risk of board dissolution due to lack of a pipeline for new directors. The Clay Chairperson commenced a recruitment process for new board members. This has been very successful resulting in 4 new board members over the last 2 years and in injection of new skills and energy on our board.
Risk of a child protection incident in Clay. This risk resulted in a complete review of the Clay Child Protection Policy and alignment of the Policy with the Children First Act. This also resulted in additional training for Clay staff in this area. The concepts and tools of the Risk Register has been applied to Child Protection practice situations and improved the response in practice.
Risk of fraud within Clay. A new Financial Procedures document was developed by the Clay Financial Administrator and approved by the Board. This ensured clear approval authorities for spending and the requirement for double approvals for all expenditure.

A Directors’ register of interests was also created and maintained.

Risk of Clay building being unavailable due to fire or some other event/disaster. An external expert with an in-depth knowledge of insurance was engaged to assess the appropriateness of Clay’s insurance policies for our needs.

A reciprocal business continuity arrangement was agreed with a neighbouring community service to share space in the event of a disaster in either location.

Key dependencies on some employees and board members within Clay. One additional staff member, as well as one board member, were trained in using Clay’s online banking system.

Our Chairperson also developed a succession plan for the Chairperson role and has reviewed this plan with our Project Leader. The Chairperson and Project Leader have also identified potential successors for key roles.

Risk of an HR incident in Clay, impacting on reputation and staff retention. A full review of Clay’s Staff Handbook resulted in stronger grievance procedures and a clearer process for disciplinary action.

A new whistle-blower policy was developed and is expected to be approved by the Board in September 2019.

Some Clay employees on recurring fixed-term contracts were moved to Contracts of Indefinite Duration. This resulted in a significant morale boost for the team.

In summary, the cumulative impact of the above improvements cannot be underestimated. The risk identification exercise has resulted in a more open culture within Clay where everyone is encouraged to raise new risks as they identify them which also provokes a healthy discussion around possible risk mitigations. This Risk Register is the backbone of Clay’s governance and aims to ensure that Clay remains viable and able to deliver on its mission to provide an invaluable service to the young people of Crumlin.