Belfast Telegraph

‘Weave’ group forced to close

An Antrim Road based project which helped women start their own businesses has been forced to close for lack of funds.



The 40 women graduating last Friday will be the last to pass out of the Weave project, which has been run by Intercom for the past nine years.

Trisha Brady, who runs the project with founding manager Maria McEntee, said: “We missed out by one mark on meeting the criteria for funding this year. The women are really going to miss it.”

The course has run every year from September to June and the participants graduate with an OCN (Open College Network) certificate in running a small business as well as a CCEA creative craft certificate.

The scheme has helped many women find work in a disadvantaged area with some of them achieving excellence.

“One of the women won a National Training Award in 2007 and Maria, one of the girls last year, was student of the year at OCN,” said Trisha.

Project manager Marie McEntee says she cannot believe that the course has to end.

She said the threshold for funding was 134 and that Weave actually scored 142 but on two of the questions they fell short of the requirement by one point. They have appealed the decision but turned down.

“Apart from two part time posts and five tutors who are losing their jobs there is the impact that this will have on the community.

Apart from teaching women craft-making and business skills, the Weave programme would have helped with literacy and computer skills, the women would have learned how to market their products as well.

“Apart from Weave, we run a Making Sense of Your Money course four times a year in which tutors deal with debt management and bankruptcies. We had no problem getting 25 women onto each course and it was very effective, particularly in this climate with redundancies and house prices going down.”

“I’m disgusted. I just can’t believe it. I don’t think DEL sees the faces or the impact that the cuts have.”

A Department for Employment and Learning spokesman said: “The second call to the NIESF Programme was an open, competitive and time-bound call for projects to bid for funding from the programme's budget of £30m for the period 2011-2014. Unfortunately the Weave project did not secure a satisfactory score on regional approach to sustainable development, a core requirement of the NIESF Programme, and hence did not receive an offer of funding. This score was also upheld at appeal.”

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