Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Jim Montgomery recently paid a visit to Newtownabbey Arts and Cultural Network (NACN) to hear more about the fantastic work they have been carrying out during the current COVID19 pandemic.
Based in the heart of Rathcoole, this Youth Development Group are an alternative to the standard youth provision that we would know. Focusing on the creative and innovative industries, NACN bring a different approach in providing young people with opportunities for success. The group are funded under the National Lottery Community Fund through their Empowering Young People Project and have secured just under £500,000 of funding to support the young people in the area.
Throughout the pandemic the group have been manufacturing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for local businesses and groups including Abbey Community College, Abbey Sure Start, Funky Kids, One2Be Salon, Whitehouse Workingmen's Club, Rathfern Activity Centre, Monkstown Boxing Club, The Peace Bytes Project, New Lodge Child Care and even as far as Glenshane Retirement Home in County Londonderry.
The Mayor, along with Councillor Robert Foster enjoyed his recent visit to hear more about the work of the group and to meet some of the young members;
“I have heard a lot of positive feedback about NACN so I wanted to see for myself the group in operation. During my visit I was very impressed with the members who are clearly developing valuable skills and confidence through their activities. I was shown how they are creating PPE using 3D printers with them having a large demand for the products. They are providing such a valuable service in current times.”
The Mayor continued;
“I was then able to enjoy some of the young ones recording songs in their sound studio and was fascinated by the effort they put in to their arts and culture. I also heard of the members training as youth workers which will be a valuable asset to the community going forward. It is clear NACN is providing much needed services to the young people in the community. They are able to achieve much more but are confined by the lack of space but hopefully this can be addressed going forward and NACN and its members can further flourish.”
Centre Manager Dee Crooks said;
" It’s great to see the Mayor ask to come here and see what the young people get up to. I am so proud of the youth that come to the group and have seen them grow into young leaders, even as we speak we have 9 NACN members training for their Level 2 Youth Work qualification in the Dunanney Centre and recently started two new staff. We are also partners on two European funded Partnerships; Peace Bytes and the Breakthrough Project".
Councillor Foster said;
"NACN are a very interesting and forward thinking group that I have supported from the very start and will continue to do as their approach to provide a creative outlet is very much needed in this area".
NACN are currently working from a small unit above the shops at the Diamond which is owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. However, they are in the process of taking on a larger space so they can deliver OCN Qualifications that are equivalent to GCSE's to any member interested in the Creative and Innovative Industries. They are currently seeking funds to help them with this transformation and refurbishment costs.
Young Leader Brooke Thompson that has been coming to NACN from 2013 said;
“NACN has allowed me to grow as a person and has helped and supported me to build my personal skills, confidence and provided me with and outlet for my singing, in which I love doing.”
If you are a young person that is interested in any of the following please get in touch; Singing Academy, Music Production using Cuebase Industry Standard Software, Digital DJ'ing, Film Production, Photography, Guitar and Ukulele, Drum Kit Tuition or Performing Arts
For more information contact Dee Crooks E. email@example.com
NACN are supported under the Rathcoole Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.