Community plan ‘transforming lives’ in borough

James Blair, who works as a professional cookery apprentice in Galgorm, started his career as a direct result of Mid and East Antrim's Community Plan.
James Blair, who works as a professional cookery apprentice in Galgorm, started his career as a direct result of Mid and East Antrim's Community Plan.

Launched just over two years ago, the Mid and East Antrim Community Plan ‘Putting People First’ is making a positive impact across the borough.

A ‘Statement of Progress’ has been published to show how much has been achieved through the plan to date.

With the launch of the ‘This is ME’ dementia choir, job fairs in the Braid and the uniform exchange schemes and more, it has put words into practice to benefit Mid and East Antrim citizens.

Putting People First was launched in June 2017 following extensive evidence gathering and community consultation across the borough, allowing the Community Planning Partnership to create a plan with strong endorsements for the five themes - Sustainable Jobs and Tourism, Good Health and Wellbeing, Progress in Education, Community Safety and Cohesion and Our Environment.

Under Sustainable Jobs and Tourism to date there has been over 10 investor visits through council into the borough, £500k revenue generated in the borough as a result of four tourism marketing campaigns and 75 additional jobs created via the Business Escalator Programme. Good Health and Wellbeing has seen the creation of eight community gardens and five community orchards, 145 families have benefited from the uniform exchange scheme and over 5,000 people engaged in the Every Body Active programme in 2018/19.

Under the strand Progress in Education, six primary schools are participating in a parental engagement pilot programme in Carrick, over 150 children attended a Year of Engineering event and 26 partner organisations have formed a skills forum to develop stronger linkages between business and education.

There were over 60 organisations signed up to ‘No Hate Here’ initiative through the Community Safety and Cohesion umbrella and 46 vulnerable people were referred through the support hub with a 30% reduction in calls to the PSNI.

Between January and June 2019 there were 31 clean ups carried out which fall under the Our Environment theme along with nine priority cycle routes being identified in the borough and three community groups received certified ‘Eco-Community’ status. The plan was developed in partnership with a wide range of local people and organisations and brought together the public, private and voluntary sectors to work alongside the community.

M&EA Mayor, Maureen Morrow, said: “We are delighted by the positive impact the Community Plan is having on the residents of Mid and East Antrim and how it is transforming lives.”

James Blair, a professional cookery apprentice in Galgorm, started his career as a direct result of M&EA’s Community Plan. This was through a programme to ensure people within the borough are equipped with the necessary skills to work in and sustain the future tourism industry. He said: “I started the Galgorm Apprenticeship Programme in September 2018 and this gave me the opportunity of not only working within the resort but also completing my NVQ Level 2 in Professional Cookery at NRC.”