Belfast Telegraph

Youth group scales heights thanks to Comic Relief leg-up

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

A cross-community youth climbing club is just one of the groups in Northern Ireland to benefit from a cash injection thanks to Comic Relief.

Earlier this year the Belfast Telegraph teamed up with Sport Relief to help distribute a £50,000 cash fund for community groups and organisations here who "help people living tough lives".

The groups have just received notification of their grant awards, up to £1,000 each for everything from venue hire and equipment to first aid training and coaching courses.

Paul Speight from the Hanging Rockers Climbing Club based at Gortatole Outdoor Education Centre in Florence Court, Co Fermanagh, said the £1,000 it has received is a welcome boost.

The money will got toward hiring a climbing wall and training volunteer coaches.

"The youth project was originally set up using money from Peace III funding," Paul said.

"We got Catholic and Protestant kids, and kids from across the border in Blacklion, to mix and get involved.

"We draw kids from the rural surroundings on both sides of the border and they get to train and be part of a unique sport."

Paul explained that taking part in rock climbing encouraged team-building.

"It's challenging," he said.

"In rock climbing you have to rely on others for your wellbeing, for your very life, so it builds cooperation and trust – and it's downright exciting.

"Some of our young people go on to compete in competitions."

Another group to benefit from the Belfast Telegraph-backed initiative is The Three Spires Craft Club.

Retired civil servant Roisin Neville from Magherafelt is part of the group, which was set up in 2005 and meets weekly at the old courthouse building in Moneymore.

The club received £910 to go towards the cost of a tutor and running costs for the rural seniors group.

"We really appreciate the kindness (of people like Comic Relief) to help keep us going," Roisin said.

"We have a brilliant tutor who knows everything about all aspects of crafts, including silk painting, patchwork, embroidery, fabric painting and bag making.

"The club meets once a week, it's mainly senior citizens, but everyone is welcome.

"I enjoy the wide variety of crafts and the social aspect. It's my weekly treat. My time for me. The camaraderie is unreal."

Comic Relief's head of UK grants Gilly Green said: "We are really pleased to be in the fifth year of running this scheme and awarding grants to community groups in Northern Ireland."

She added: "Once again we have seen some fantastic work that makes a real difference to local communities."

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