The Waterford Chamber Regional Leaders Programme has reached new heights before Christmas as a chance meeting has resulted in supporting people in Direct Provision.

The programme, which has been recognised a number of times nationally for its innovation, unites leaders and participants to share experiences and this is how Elaine Fennelly, CEO of Crystal Valley Tech and Anne Nolan of Waterford Integration Services came together.

According to Elaine, “When Waterford Chamber of Commerce commenced its Regional Leaders Program, they had no idea the benefits would be so wide and diverse.  

Working together, they very quickly figured out a way that the ICT firms of the South East could support people in Direct Provision. Many ICT firms replace laptops quite frequently to keep up with the demands of hungry software, so they often have a pool of second- hand laptops. After an initial appeal by Elaine who is in regular contact with tech firms in the region, Sun Life and Radius Technologies, both based in Waterford, donated 34 second hand laptops. Sun Life’s Donna Tilson is one of the founders of Crystal Valley Tech, was only too happy to come on board, while Radius Technologies is one of the country’s growing technology firms, having expanded into both Cork and Dublin.

According to Elaine, “ The business community in the South East have continued to stay connected throughout COVID-19 and the Regional Leaders Program has been a driving force in this -  meeting Anne and securing 34 laptops for families with limited income in Direct Provision is just one of a number of benefits of this programme and I am delighted to have been involved with it over the past four years.” 

Speaking about the Regional Leaders Programme, Gerald Hurley, CEO Waterford Chamber said: “Elaine and all of our leaders give so much to the programme and we are so grateful for that. The programme is designed by the business community for the business community, under the umbrella of Waterford Chamber and with the support of Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Bausch + Lomb.

“I was delighted to hear of how Anne and Elaine worked together to support our community and it reinforces our belief that the programme had to go ahead this year, in spite of Covid. Moving online with the one to one sessions and group sessions has meant we could expand our leader talent pool and the programme is going from strength to strength. This example of sharing knowledge and experience is exactly how beneficial the programme can be and we look forward to working with our leaders and participants for the remainder of the programme.”