Children and older people in the Coleraine area are receiving more social, educational and travel opportunities thanks to grants from the Big Lottery Fund.
West Bann Development has received a £7,644 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. It is part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out of £743,207 to 95 groups across Northern Ireland including £37,199 to five groups in the Coleraine area.
West Bann Development works to stimulate regeneration of the Heights and Killowen areas of Coleraine for the benefit of the public, to relieve poverty, unemployment and enhance community life.
They are using the grant for a their Healthier You project, which includes a wide range of activities for children and older people to increase physical activity, improve community relations and provide access to new skills and experiences.
They are holding a four week summer scheme next year for children aged two to 11 from different backgrounds. The activities include surfing, canoeing and educational trips.
They are also providing a programme of physical activities and education for people aged 50 plus in the area including aerobic tennis, Strictly Ballroom Style dancing, flower arranging classes and musical therapy. The members will also have three educational day trips. The next trip is to the Tayto Castle in Tandragee in December.
Selma Hart (80) has been coming to the centre for many years and is involved in nearly every activity they offer.
Selma has never owned a car, nor has she ever learned to drive, so the trips arranged by the club expand her horizons beyond her usual local bus route.
“I get the bus down to the Wednesday morning Club for over 50s to have a cup of tea and a good time.
“We all love that wee club. Everybody comes in to it and we have a laugh. The club gives us a reason to get together and meet people from other areas. We had a tea dance lately which was a new thing for me, with old-time music and tea and a lunch,” she said.
“The club organises day trips away to other parts of the country occasionally, and that’s a big thing for me since I’m not a driver - I never have been, and neither has my husband.
“We just don’t go anywhere other than when we take the bus down into the town. But the club is organising a trip to the Tayto Factory in Tandragee in December. I’ve never been there before in my life.
“It’s brilliant to see the club get this grant. It gives us a chance to get out and meet people we would never have met and go places we would never have had the chance to go.”
Bobby Kane, West Bann Development Co-ordinator, said: “This community has been quite divided, so it has been great being able to bring people together through this project and to regenerate the area.
“Everyone who takes part in our activities enjoys coming together, meeting new friends, and having a good laugh. Our Community Centre has full disabled access and a lift for our activities which take place. These activities help improve physical fitness, weight loss, and are great ways to combat stress and anxiety.
Meanwhile the Coast Office Society Ltd is a co-operative society set up to bring back facilities to Portballintrae and provide opportunities for people to work together through environmental awareness and maritime heritage activities.
They are using the £9,900 grant to bring the community together to build a traditional style drontheim boat.
They will then connect with other north coast and Scottish communities by using it in regattas and bringing a regatta back to Portballintrae.