‘Happy’ days for Coleraine’s disadvantaged communities

<p>''&lt;p&gt;Exterior of the LRC, Coleraine Campus</p>
<p>''&lt;p&gt;Exterior of the LRC, Coleraine Campus</p>

The University of Ulster is to deliver a £360,000 widening access project which will engage with some of Coleraine’s most disadvantaged communities.

Funded by the Department for Social Development, the IM HAPPY project will work with communities in Coleraine Churchland (Killowen and Heights) and Coleraine East (Ballysally and Millburn) to raise aspirations and build community confidence and capability in the areas through participation in computer-based activities such as app development.

The fundamental aim of the project – which will run until spring 2015 – is to apply these learning principles to a much wider audience, and provide support and encouragement for young people in the deprived regions of the Coleraine area.

The project team has identified a programme of bite-sized computer-based activities that will provide learners with an opportunity to develop skills and abilities using the most up-to-date tools and technologies. This achievement will be formally recognised through University module accreditation.

“This will provide the impetus for the participating learners to become increasingly confident in their own abilities as they strive to achieve their full potential.

Martin McKinney, the Head of School of Computing & Information Engineering has assembled an experienced team to plan and deliver the project. Martin said: “My team is excited about this project’s potential to contribute to the University’s widening access agenda, as well as making a significant contribution to ‘town and gown’ relations in the area.

“This project will help produce a better-educated local workforce – which in turn could prove a catalyst for attracting investment in high tech jobs to the area.”

The DSD funding will provide support for dedicated staff and equipment to facilitate the programme of activities.

In making this award, Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, has recognised that the programme has the potential to equip the most disadvantaged people with new skills and appropriate educational development to meet future labour market needs.

The IM HAPPY Project will provide a significant skills boost to the north-west, making it an increasingly attractive proposition for prospective STEM based industries.