04/08/2010

Communities Win Big Lottery Pay Out

Skills training, drug addition, alcoholism and difficulties endured by ethnic minorities are to be tackled in NI with funds from the Big Lottery Fund.

Grants totalling over £2.5 million from the Fund's Reaching Communities programme - which supports a wide range of projects to improve people's lives - have been revealed today.

One project being funded is to help older people deal with their drug and alcohol addictions.

Northern Ireland Community Addiction Service Ltd (NICAS) has been awarded a grant of £207,144 to continue the 'Counselling Older People with Addictions at Home' project which will provide an alcohol and drugs treatment service supporting older people dealing with addictions and their families.

It will offer a unique home visit service to older people in the Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Antrim, Ards and North Down areas that will involve a programme of counselling and one-to-one support.

"When it comes to drugs and alcohol the focus tends to be young people, but support is also needed for older people with addiction in Northern Ireland and they are often a forgotten group," said Director Claire Armstrong, who welcomed the funding.

The Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) has been awarded a grant of £424,276 to establish the Belfast Migrant Centre under the Welcome House project at Shaftesbury Square in Belfast as a support centre where people from ethnic minority communities can report hate crime and discrimination in confidence.
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The Belfast Migrant Centre will also be a 'one stop shop' offering where people can also get advice and guidance on issues such as finding jobs, making doctor's appointments and getting health advice, and registering for houses and schools.

Executive Director Patrick Yu said: "People from ethnic minority communities are dealing with discrimination and employment rights issues, they are being sacked because they don’t know their rights, and they are dealing with increasing harassment in the workplace.

"We are developing a centre where people can report hate crime safely and we can offer them support to help them settle down and integrate into the wider society."

East Belfast Independent Advice Centre (EBIAC) has been awarded £500,000 to run the four-year Community Advocacy Skills Training (CAST) project that will offer free, independent and confidential advice services to people in the east Belfast area.

The project will also train 40 volunteers from the local community to work as volunteer advocates, providing advice on issues including welfare benefits, housing, employment and debt and consumer rights.

Manager Mary McManus said: "We have been operating in the area for the last ten years, but over the last four years we have struggled with a lack of funding and our staff levels have been reduced.

"We are right at the heart of the inner East Neighbourhood Renewal area, an area characterised by high levels of disadvantage and health problems.

"This grant will enable us to operate at full capacity in a time when advice is vital to the local community," she explained.

Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, Frank Hewitt, said: "I am delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has supported such a diverse range of projects under this programme. It is heartening to see so many projects supporting disadvantaged groups within our society."

(BMcC/GK)

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