Case Study Theme

Goal 1 – Local Community Groups – Supporting communities to engage with relevant stakeholders in identifying and addressing social exclusion and equality issues, developing the capacity of local community groups and creating more sustainable communities.

LOT Thematic Focus

Applying community development approaches to achieve the participation of disadvantaged and marginalise communities in the wider local development context – Mayo Islands Water Safety Programme

Introduction to the Project  

The Mayo Branch of Irish Water Safety has been coming to the Mayo Islands for over two decades delivering Water Safety Classes to young people. Beginners in the water, all the way up to Survival and Rescue level swimmers are taught on the extensive programme that Irish Water Safety makes available for learners.

For two week in the summer, dedicated instructors come to both Inishturk Island and Clare Island, County Mayo, to deliver workshops of anywhere up to and beyond forty children in each location. The summer swim programme is the highlight of the year for some young people, with children planning their summer visit to the islands to visit family to coincide with these workshops.

This project came about with support from the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme in collaboration with Mayo County Council and Water Safety Ireland. This collaboration allows for the provision of a tutor to come and reside on the island for a week at a time, delivering an intense programme of workshops, to include exams for Rescue and Survival where the young people must demonstrate their C.P.R. and lifesaving skills.

The Role of SICAP

The Community Development, Education and Training Officer coordinates the delivery of these projects, with direct input from the community. In answering a need within the community to ensure that all young people were given the opportunity to learn how to swim. (The needs of the young people to access swimming lessons, bringing the tutor to the islands, creating learning in the community and ensuring that the young people have access to the same supports as they would if they lived on the mainland, ultimately encouraging sustainability in the community.)

Challenges and Learning

The long term nature of community work for this project is unique, in that the kids commit to learning over a number of years and each summer advance a level. The opportunity to do Rescue and Survival in their own community, where travel is not having to be taken into consideration, is an important advantage.

Partner Collaboration

Weather is always a challenge on offshore islands. Normally the summer period affords calm conditions. Post Covid, saw two years pause on the water safety, and picking up the momentum again has had its challenges.  The logistics of getting the tutor to the islands, as well as securing accommodation and scheduling the different levels of workshops, in sync with safe tidal levels form part of this project. Input from all involved help streamline this process. Collaboration is extremely important to ensure this project is delivered.


This project is an annual favourite for the young people, forming a consistent element in their summer schedule. It is a great way for learning and showcasing how collaboration can work wonders for communities, encouraging social inclusion and a wider sense of community.



View the case study here

 Registered in Dublin 182222. Recognised by the Revenue Commissioners as a Charity No. CHY 10482 Copyright © 2021 South West Mayo Development. All Rights Reserved.