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Communities Minister Givan visits Vineyard Compassion

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Vineyard Compassion welcomed the Department For Communities, Minister Paul Givan to Causeway Coast Vineyard on Wednesday 28th September 2016 to share about how it tackles poverty and social deprivation and provide details of its future plans to build a new Compassion Centre.

Mr Givan arrived at the end of Vineyard Compassion’s Job Club and was able to visit The Open Door drop in. Mr Ricky Wright, Chief Executive explained that during 2015 over 7,000 individual support sessions were provided to local people in need through a team of 295 volunteers. Last year these volunteers contributed almost 14,500 hours to the community. Mr Wright thanked the previous Department of Social Development for providing previous funding which had enabled Vineyard Compassion to develop its supported volunteer programme as well as procure a new online database which is now helping Vineyard Compassion provide better outcomes. He shared plans (currently with CCG Council) with Minister Givan to build a new Vineyard Compassion centre which would bring together all projects across the 10-acre site under one roof and described how this would help tackle crisis needs and the root causes of poverty in the Causeway Coast and Glens area. Mr Wright explained that this ‘would greatly reduce barriers to accessing holistic support’ for clients.

One of Vineyard Compassion’s former CAP debt clients spoke passionately of how the organisation had helped her deal with debt and life controlling issues. She said that without Vineyard Compassion she wouldn’t be here today. This client is now debt free and a valued volunteer within the organisation and has recently become one of Vineyard Compassion’s trained Debt Coaches.

Following lunch, Mr Givan was introduced to some of the staff team who then gave him a tour of some of the onsite projects. This included the Foodbank Warehouse and Distribution Centre, the Donations Centre, Wear House clothing bank, Grow allotment project and some of its social enterprises including Vineyard Market and the Link, which offers a variety of work placements designed to increase clients’ confidence, skills, social networks and ultimately employability. Mr Givan saw some of Vineyard Compassion’s clients participate in a production line, producing wood kindling and logs which are then sold to the public to generate income to sustain the project.

Vineyard Compassion are grateful to Minister Givan for taking the time to visit its premises and for being able to highlight the various services provided to people in need within this community. Vineyard Compassion looks forward to welcoming him back to the new Compassion Centre in the future.

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