Belfast Telegraph

Community champions win praise for their hard work

by Natalie Gorman

Community champions in Newtownabbey who took time out of their busy schedules to fine-tune their skills were rewarded at a special ceremony last week.

Over 100 people attended the fourth annual Celebrating Success community graduation at the Theatre at the Mill last Thursday evening (March 24). The event was organised by Newtownabbey Borough Council.

One of the graduates to collect her certificate was Sharon McTaggart, who set up a women’s group in her Queens Park estate.

She told the Community Telegraph: “I took part in quite a few of these community capacity building courses and they have been great.

“I decided only last year to set up Queens Park Women’s Group to get a few girls together and help out some of the older residents who live in the estate as well as ensuring the children had something to do.

“We have helped pensioners get to and from local tea dances, put out their bins weekly for them, picked up litter and cleaned alley ways — and getting the young kids to help us with that. I have been raising money for hospices through some abseils I have been doing as well.

“At the beginning of setting up the group we found it a bit difficult, but it’s getting a lot easier now — having the opportunity to complete these courses has really helped me.”

Just like any professional gradu- ation ceremony, graduates from this course were given the opportunity to listen to an inspiring graduation speech made by Professor Alistair Adair, a pro vice-chancellor from the University of Ulster.

At the event Newtownabbey Mayor Paula Brady said: “Tonight I am delighted that we will be applauding our own local talent and recognising your personal achievements during this year.

“In fact, over the course of the evening we will celebrate the success of over 100 people who attended our courses since July 2010.

“We are committed to supporting the development of skills and expertise within our community and voluntary sector to enable it to continue to grow and expand.”

The various courses on offer included child protection, first aid, food safety, event stewarding, event management, practical skills in completing application forms, sourcing funding and web development.

The appeal of these courses has been reflected in the level of demand which continues to grow steadily.

Further community capacity building courses will be starting this September.

If you are involved in community work within the borough and would be interested in attending similar courses please register your interest by contacting Dawn Leonard/|Debbie Taylor, tel 028 9034 0060.

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