Coleraine based community jobs regeneration group, West Bann Development has been awarded £20,000 through Round 1 of Ulster Bank’s 2016 Skills & Opportunities Fund programme.
The funding award will allow the team at West Bann to implement an extensive employability and training programme targeting local people aged 16-55. Starting in September 2016 the 18 month programme will provide a range of skills, tailored qualifications and business start-up support packages for up to 140 people in the Coleraine and surrounding region.
Established in 1998 West Bann Development opened a purpose built training and community centre in 2004 featuring six enterprise units and focusing on promoting education, recreation and employability in the local area. The £20K Skills & Opportunities award will be used to roll out IT, Sage accounts and word-processing qualifications with the ultimate aim of helping people begin or return to employment or set up their own business.
Eugene McFeely, West Bann Development manager said, “Ulster Bank’s Skills & Opportunities Fund will enable us to provide more in depth courses and training support to a wider reach of people. Without the funding award we simply would not be in a position to roll out such a full and comprehensive employability and entrepreneurship programme so the contribution is vital to our work in the Coleraine area.”
Sentinus Lisburn is the other funding winner in Northern Ireland and the organisation which supports primary, post primary and third level colleges with a wide range of digital programmes was awarded £7500. Sentinus plans to use the Ulster Bank award to roll out a brand new programme to NI schools called ‘Digital You.’ It will support 14-16 year olds in disadvantaged communities offering ‘ in school’ support and training in a full range of digital skills including coding and App development set within a business context.
Seven recipients were named across the island of Ireland as part of a broader £2.5 million UK and Ireland Skills & Opportunities Fund from Ulster Bank, RBS and NatWest distributed annually over a three year period. In addition to West Bann and Sentinus, other winners were North Leitrim Men’s Group, National College of Ireland (Early Learning Initiative), Innovate Dublin, Jobcare and Daisyhouse Housing Association.
First launched in 2015 the initiative aims to support projects in disadvantages communities that help people access the skills and opportunities to get into work, learn new skills or set up their own business.
Commenting on the announcement of the winners Sean Murphy, Regional Managing Director Branch and Private Banking said:
“At Ulster Bank we’re pleased to support these winning organisations through our Skills & Opportunities Fund. We’ve had excellent feedback from past winners telling us how the monies really are impacting positively in areas where it is most needed. We firmly believe that this year’s selected Round 1 organisations will greatly benefit from this funding and enhance the level of training and skills leading to greater opportunities for their trainees.”
Over 110 applications from charities, community groups and state-funded schools and colleges were received in Round 1 of the 2016 Ulster Bank Skills & Opportunities Fund initiative. These were narrowed down to a shortlist of six across Northern Ireland with West Bann Development and Sentinus Lisburn ultimately taking the top podium awards locally in Northern Ireland.
Judging was carried out by panel of specialists and the results of a public vote counted as one vote alongside those of the judging panel.
The next round of funding will open for applications from 22 August until 9 September.
More information on the winning projects and the organisations behind them is available atskillsandopportunitiesfund.ulsterbank.com, where you can also sign up to receive updates.