THREE Newtownabbey groups are celebrating a windfall from the Big Lottery Fund.
Small grants totalling over £22,000 have been presented to Ashgrove Nursery School, Newtownabbey Youth Council and Synergy@JVC.
Synergy, which is part of Jordan Victory Church and based in Linford Green in Rathcoole, is part of the Rathcoole Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership and was awarded £10,000 for its computer tuition courses.
Project coordinator Adrian Smith said: “This is fantastic for the group. We run courses for the over 50s to learn how to use a computer and the internet - we have two people in their 80s with us at the moment.
“It has been a great success. In a class we were teaching about using Skype, one woman called her daughter-in-law in Brazil and was able to watch her grandchild play in the background.
“We use volunteers in the classes who give up their free time and we have five laptops altogether. This money will mean we can buy more, newer and better computers and run bigger courses.”
Courses take place in the Synergy Centre in Rathcoole on Thursdays and Fridays between 2pm and 4pm. For further information contact Adrian on 9086 8661.
Over £8,500 was presented to Ashgrove Nursery School for a programme of activities and education training to get the wider community involved in the playgroup.
Principal Joanne Barr said the whole school was excited about the news.
“The innovative initiative which we have created is called ‘Learning Together is EEEasy’ - the three Es meaning empowering, enriching and enjoying learning,” she explained.
“The aim of our project is to bring together the children, parents, carers, governors, extended families and the wider community in order to promote a deeper knowledge and understanding of how our young children learn through play.
“We are always seeking out ground breaking ideas to enhance the experiences of our whole school community and we know that this project will ensure that our children and parents will be provided with the best opportunity for learning at this critical time of their young lives.”
Newtownabbey Youth Council, which is made up of 18 people aged between 15 and 22, aims to raise awareness and address issues affecting young people in the area and will use its £3,500 grant to run a young person’s conference.
The group is supported by the NEELB which provides a small amount of funding.
Caoimhe McAlister is the current chairwoman and Andrew Alderice is the deputy.
Youth worker Valerie McKenzie works with the group in a support capacity.
She said: “The council is not linked in any way to anything political or Newtownabbey Borough Council - it is a totally stand alone body.
“It is a way for the young people to become engaged in civic leadership and to do things for other young people.
“The conference the Youth Council is organising on May 31 is called ‘Getting Clued up’ and will address four key issues of unemployment, abuse, education and health and wellbeing.
“All those involved with the council are in charge of organising everything around the conference, including the budget, agenda and promotion.
“It is an excellent way for them to build their confidence and own levels of satisfaction and we are all very excited.”
Valerie also appealed to any young people in the area who would like to be involved with the group to contact her on 07841 103129.
Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund Chairman said: “The Awards for All programme funds health, education, environment and community projects that help people bring about positive change in their lives, improve health and well-being, develop skills and create safer communities.
“The application process is simple and accessible and shall remain so, making it easy for applicants to successfully apply for small pots of funding that can have such a big impact on local communities and lives.”
Application forms are available at www.awardsforall.org.uk.