Northern Regional College is working in partnership with Neighbourhood Renewal Areas across Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area to deliver lifelong learning to local community groups. The Department of Communities (DfC) funded project has been running for the past number of years in local community venues in Ballyclare providing training courses covering a range of subjects.

Joanne Drummond, Grange Neighbourhood Renewal Community Development Officer, explains the thinking behind the Lifelong Learning Project:

“We provide a wide range of accredited courses in Essential Skills, Health and Safety, First Aid and Sign Language as well non-accredited and short taster sessions in Creative Crafts and Holiday Spanish. The courses are all free of charge and are intended to give participants a positive experience of learning which in turn will encourage them come back and do other courses or get  involved in volunteering activities in their local community. People find that doing courses improves their confidence which in the longer term can potentially help create new employment opportunities for them.”

Joanne continues: “The idea of the Lifelong Learning Project is to engage with people of all ages in the wider community. The courses we deliver are demand led so we rely on feedback and really listen to what local people are telling us they want to do.

“We must be getting something right because as soon as one course finishes, the class are always looking to start something else to help develop their new skills.”

The Creative Crafts classes delivered by Northern Regional College lecturer Cheryl Sinclair have proved exceptionally popular with the local woman’s group and many of the ladies have already completed short courses in quilting, soft furnishing, bag decorating and decoupage.