24/08/2006

Cash boost for west Belfast educational facility

The government has today announced that it has provided a £184,000 cash injection to assist educational services in West Belfast.

The funding has been provided by the Department for Social Development's Belfast Regeneration Office (BRO).

The Westcourt Centre, which is based in the former Christian Brothers School at Barrack Street, in Belfast, will use the money to refurbish the old school.

The funding will also enable the organisation to expand its current educational programmes aimed at young people who have rejected or been excluded from school, and to provide a valuable community resource for youth and multi-ethnic work.

Commenting on the announcement, Social Development Minister David Hanson MP said: "One of the main aims of Neighbourhood Renewal is to ensure that people living in disadvantaged areas have equal access to the best possible services and opportunities to help them get the skills they need to progress in life.

"Westcourt plays a very important role in this by providing education to marginalized young people. It helps them to turn away from anti-social behaviour and instead focus on their personal and career development.”

He continued: "The refurbishment work at the school will create a top quality educational facility for the entire community and beyond, and I understand the expansion of educational programmes will include those aimed at the growing ethnic minority groups in the area, aiding their integration into the wider community."

Cormac McArt, Project Manager, Westcourt Centre said: "Thanks to the support of the BRO, the Westcourt Centre can now maximise its potential to provide education and personal and social development activities to the local and wider community including youths, adults and ethnic minority groups."

The Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy 'People and Place' was published in June 2003 to close the gap between the quality of life for people in the most deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of society.

The Strategy has four interlinking strategic objectives: Community Renewal - to develop confident communities that are able and committed to improving the quality of life in their areas; Economic Renewal - to develop economic activity in the most deprived neighbourhoods and connect them to the wider urban economy; Social Renewal - to improve social conditions for the people who live in the most deprived neighbourhoods through better co-ordinated public services and the creation of safer environments; Physical Renewal - to help create attractive, safe and sustainable environments in the most deprived neighbourhoods.

(EF)

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