The 10th anniversary of Factory Community Forum will be marked with a special dinner at Larne Bowling & Lawn Tennis Club next month.
Founded in February 2009, the forum opened its first office - with funding from the Big Lottery Fund - on Upper Waterloo Road and since then has gone from strength to strength.
Further support from Depart for Social Development (DSD) through the Areas at Risk programme helped the organisation to grow and now, based at Greenland Community Centre, it delivers a wide ranging programme targeting people of all ages.
Gareth McConnell, who has been with the organisation since it opened, said: “That Factory Community Forum is now ten years old is a real achievement for the local community and something of which we can be very proud. When I look back over all the projects and programmes we have delivered or been part of in the past decade you can see the difference we have made.”
As well as a regular youth club, children’s programmes and a successful annual summer scheme, the organisation delivers activities for older people, employability programmes, peace and reconciliation programmes, as well as numerous other activities. Recent support from the International Fund for Ireland’s Peace Impact Programme has seen a new and popular programme of activities.
Jonathan Brown, chairperson of Factory Community Forum, said: “Some of our major achievements have included the re-imaging of murals in the area, the launch of our youth club, our work with older people, as well as our commitment to working with children to improve their educational attainment. We now have over 20 trained volunteers supporting our activities.”
In the next few months Factory Community Forum is launching the A2I Youth Outreach Project which will work with young people at risk. Volunteers from the group will be training in restorative justice and street outreach and delivering programmes which help young people to make better choices in their lives.
Gareth continued, “Our aim is to secure our own premises which will enable us to be more sustainable in the long-term and along with initiatives like our forthcoming Kidz DayZone club, which will open in the next few months, allow us to provide more services which support local people.”
The Kidz DayZone club will work with children and help them with things like their homework as well as provide other activities such as sports, arts and music workshops. Factory Community Forum is also lobbying to ensure that play and open spaces in the area are upgraded to a better standard.
Jonathan added: “I would like to thank all the people who have supported our work over the past decade, including DSD and International Fund for Ireland. I would also like to thank all the volunteers, committee members, parents, and participants in our activities who have helped to make the past decade such a success.”
If anyone wishes to attend the 10th anniversary after party, it will be held at Larne Bowling & Lawn Tennis Club on Friday, March 8, from 9pm until late. Music will be by local group Rumors and admission is free of charge.