The (Cork) Social and Health Education Project was established in 1986 to continue work that had first been initiated in 1974 by a number of teachers, health professionals and others who shared a concern about the short and longer-term effects on people of health-threatening choices made during childhood and adolescence. From the outset, the work of the Project was associated with the use of participative, experiential education as a means of fostering a capacity to make informed and responsible choices.

Over time, the innovative training of teachers to support young people led to the development of what is a unique and highly-regarded training programme for adults and communities in personal, social and health education. Whilst the training of teachers was gradually incorporated into a new, national Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme in schools, it was clear that SHEP’s innovative work with adults met a real need. The Project proceeded therefore to offer foundation training in social and health education to support adults from all backgrounds to develop greater personal awareness, confidence and capacity to contribute to family, community and society.

Later, facilitation training and specialised tutor training were developed for those who wished, either in the course of their professional work or by serving as community tutors to make a stronger contribution in their own communities. Over time, other areas of work – such as counselling and advocacy – were initiated to complement SHEP’s work in training and development. More recently, our embracing of International Partnership work, which is based on commitment to being outward looking and our solidarity with like-minded groups in other parts of the world, has added a very important global dimension to our work.