Belfast Telegraph

Faith Forum is welcomed

By Brian Lovett

Ards MLA Michelle McIlveen has welcomed Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie's decision to implement a new Faith Forum.

The forum is a two year initiative for faith groups and churches which have demonstrated a proven commitment to assisting those in need in Northern Ireland.

The forum will meet quarterly with officials, look at relevant policy areas and the Minister will provide a budget for funding specific areas of research.

Michelle McIlveen said faith groups were undertaking great work across her constituency.

“In Comber we have The Net, which is a Youth For Christ drop-in centre seeking to engage with young people beyond church congregations and one of its key areas of work is trying to address anti-social behaviour,” she said.

“Another example in Newtownards would be the wide range of work undertaken by the Link Family and Community Centre, which was formed by a Presbyterian Church in Newtownards in January 1997. The centre provides support for those who are suffering as a result of long-term addiction to alcohol or drugs, a senior citizens’ lunch club, it provides an educationally stimulating location for toddlers, community development projects, and in its Project 23 it provides support, facilities and activities for young people.”

Speaking about the Faith Forum, Minister Margaret Ritchie said: “A vast amount of valuable work in the community, particularly with young people, is carried out by faith-based organisations and I want to find a way to have this fully recognised and supported.”

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