New skills and festive cheer for residents

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People living at Clanmil Housing Group’s housing schemes in the Lisburn area have taken part in a training ‘taster session’ thanks to a new £850,000 skills and employability programme introduced by Clanmil Housing Group in partnership with training agency WOMEN’STEC.

Over the next three years, through the new SPEC (Supporting People – Empowering Communities) Programme, some 500 people across Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to access accredited training in traditional skills such as construction, plumbing, joinery, painting and decorating, tiling, horticulture and IT.

The programme is designed to give people who are struggling to find employment the opportunity to build skills through accredited training which will help equip them for the workplace. This Project is part funded by the Northern Ireland European Social Fund 2014 - 2020 – Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme, the Department of Employment and Learning, Belfast City Council and private sector organisations, Gilbert-Ash Construction Group and JMC Mechanical and Construction Ltd.

In Lisburn, people living in Clanmil’s homes at Causeway Meadows, Brokerstown Meadow, Mountview Drive and Dog Kennel Close and Crescent got a chance to sample some of the training on offer at a special Christmas themed taster session held at Trinity Methodist Church. While the kids enjoyed karaoke and a visit from Santa, Mums and Dads were able to try their hand at joinery, making wooden “Santa Stop Here” door hangers and Christmas table centrepieces.

The session was a great success with more than 60 people coming together to enjoy some festive cheer with their neighbours while learning new skills at the same time.

Leesa McMichael, who lives at Causeway Meadows, took part. “I really enjoyed getting together with my friends and neighbours,” she said. “It’s been great fun and we’ve all learnt a bit about joinery and how to use some of the tools. I’m quite pleased with my door hanger which will be taking pride of place on my front door this Christmas.

“We had a great laugh, met some new people from other Clanmil developments and the kids really enjoyed the party too. I would definitely take part in these sessions again.”

A full 10-week SPEC program will start in Lisburn during the Spring, offering residents a chance to take part in a series of workshops. As well as new skills, participants will have the opportunity to gain a beginner qualification in Joinery, helping them along the road to employment.

Philip Whyte, Clanmil’s Community Cohesion Officer is actively involved in delivering the SPEC program to Clanmil tenants. He said;

“We are delighted with the level of interest shown by tenants in the SPEC program so far. There has been such a positive response by tenants to the sessions which are hands-on, informal and fun, and for some people, a first step into a full accredited training programme.

“We are really excited about developing the programme in the coming months and offering more SPEC programs at our housing schemes throughout Northern Ireland with our partners at Women’sTec.”