Network helping to make a difference in Rathcoole

Representatives of Newtownabbey Arts & Cultural Network, STAR support group and Rathcoole Protestant Boys cleaning up in Rathcoole.
Representatives of Newtownabbey Arts & Cultural Network, STAR support group and Rathcoole Protestant Boys cleaning up in Rathcoole.

Newtownabbey Arts & Cultural Network (NACN) has been busy over the past few months engaging with local groups through a programme of community and educational projects in Rathcoole and surrounding areas.

NACN, set up in October last year, has organised history courses, a jobs fair, outdoor pursuits trips for young people and educational classes for adults. It also recently helped to establish a new support group for families of children with conditions such as Autism, Asperger’s and ADHD.

NACN chairman, David Crooks and secretary, Gemma Patterson are currently doing a diploma in Community Development Practice through the University of Galway, sponsored by Newtownabbey Borough Council. Other members of the group are undertaking management and child protection courses.

NACN has also secured funding from the council and the Community Relations Council to run a workshop based on ‘single identity’, which will cover the Reformation, Siege of Derry, Battle of the Boyne, the Home Rule crisis and will include a trip to the Boyne Centre and a weekend workshop in Dublin.

Earlier this month, NACN representatives were joined by members of Rathcoole Protestant Boys flute band and the STAR autism spectrum disorder support group for a clean-up within the Rathcoole estate. The event was supported by the council’s cleansing department.

Reggie Spencer, secretary of Rathcoole Protestant Boys, said the band was delighted to be able to give something back to the local community.

Urging more local organisations to work with NACN, Mr Crooks said: “We have put together a forum so that any group within Rathcoole can come and sit on a sub committee to help us build cohesion within the community. It is very important that all groups do come on board as there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.”