THE Rathcoole-based South East Antrim Community Federation (SEACF) has launched its latest community development project, which aims to improve the lives of people living in loyalist areas of South and East Antrim.
A special celebration event was held in the Long Gallery at Stormont on Monday, September 12 to mark the official launch of SEARCH (South East Antrim Resourcing from Conflict to Hope), which is administered by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.
Supported with part-finance from the European Union’s PEACE III Programme, the £406,000 project will see a series of community development initiatives rolled out across areas of Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Antrim, Larne and Ballymena over the next two years.
SEARCH has already been up and running for several months, and staff have been on the ground helping with community needs, dealing with issues surrounding bonfires and flags, and setting up a range of educational, training and personal development initiatives around the project’s catchment area.
Hosted by Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan, Monday’s launch event was attended by more than 50 guests, including Deputy Mayor Victor Robinson, Newtownabbey Council Chief Executive Jacqui Dixon and several local politicians and community representatives.
Congratulating all those behind the SEARCH project for their efforts, Mr Kinahan offered them his backing, saying: “I will strive with every sinew to work with everybody who wishes to make a positive contribution towards creating a better society. Politicians have a major role to play in not only representing the electorate, but in facilitating and assisting those who are seeking to make a difference in their community, and in particular those who have given a genuine commitment to changing past behaviour and challenging negative perceptions.”
Project Co-ordinator Tommy Kirkham added: “It is vitally important that our work continues through this SEARCH project into 2013. Our workload increases on a daily basis due to the fact that we have found the ex-prisoners and the ex-combatants in South East Antrim very easy to work with, simply because they want to leave the past behind and they want more than anything to move forward.”
For more information about the SEARCH project, log on to www.communityfoundationni.org
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