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Independent voice for community/voluntary sector Website: Issue 15

VIEW WE WILL NOT BE SILENT DEFIANT: Pensioner Angela Ley Image: Kevin Cooper



VIEW, issue 15, 2013



Vote warning

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Tax suicide

Page 8 Amnesty warns that young gay people may be forced to leave after the vote defeat on same-sex marriages

Page 14 A woman who feared being forced out of her home by the bedroom tax has killed herself in England

Urban sports

Welcome back

Pages 10-11 A shared cultural space offering urban sports is helping to break down barriers among young people in Belfast

Pages 15 An organisation that provides vital services to the homeless in Belfast has reopened its doors following an arson attack

My story

Artistic post

Page 12 MLA Jo-Anne Dobson (above) tells VIEW why she is campaigning to get more people to join the organ transplant register

Page 18 The Beat Carnival have commissioned a top artist to help develop the skills of our next wave of artistic talent

PHoToLinE Photographer Kevin cooper has more than 25 years experience in Press and Pr photography. Kevin works to a wide range of clients in community and voluntary sector organisations as well as the trade union movement. For quoTaTions conTacT Kevin cooper E: T: 028 90777299 M: 07712044751

Read about VIEWdigital’s latest masterclass on page14 Image: Kevin Cooper


VIEW, the online publication for the community/voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.


ver the last month, it has been impossible to ignore the debacle over the closure of care homes for older people. Three of Northern Ireland’s health trusts – the northern, western and southern – announced in quick succession that all their NHS care homes would close. The news caused great shock and distress to residents and their families, many of whom complained that they had not been consulted. After a public outcry, Health Minister Edwin Poots was forced into an embarrassing U-turn. The closures will now be handled by the Health and Social Care Board instead of the trusts. But whatever the spin, 50% of homes will still close as part of the Transforming Your Care policy. Mr Poots has admitted that the policy has not changed, merely that the implementation of the policy has. In this issue of View,

VIEW editor Lucy Gollogly journalist Una Murphy reports on plans for older people from Northern Ireland to raise the matter at the National Pensioners Convention in Blackpool next month. Campaigners say they will not be silenced. We also hear the views of Patricia McKeown, Regional Secretary of UNISON NI, who says Mr Poots should stop

crying “crocodile tears” over the care homes issue. Duane Farrell, Director of Policy at Age NI, argues that the care system, of which NHS homes are just one strand, is not fit for purpose. He says we now have an opportunity to create a system that respects the dignity, independence and individual needs of older people. But he says the voices of older people must be at the forefront of any change process – which they clearly haven’t been over the past few weeks. Elsewhere, we hear the story of Ulster Unionist MLA Joanne Dobson’s attempt to change the law to increase organ donations. She tells how she was inspired by her youngest son Mark who had to have a kidney transplant aged 15. Now she is bringing a Private Members’ Bill before the Assembly which would change the law to allow organ donations unless the person decides to opt out.


VIEW, issue 15, 2013


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We talk to Audrey Simpson, Acting Chief Executive and Director of the Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland –

Ironically all young people will probably be taught Pythagoras’ Theorem but will rarely use it in their adult life, whereas sex and relationships are endemic in everyone’s life

1. Describe the nature of your role. My role is to deliver FPA’s strategic plan to promote sexual health to all ages throughout the UK and importantly to ensure that sexual health becomes a priority on the political health agenda. 2. What are the main challenges? Like most charities throughout the UK, in today’s economic climate it is diminishing financial support from government. Unlike many other charities FPA is not ‘sexy’ so it can’t go down the traditional route of fundraising from the general public and corporates. 3. Are the FPA’s priorities in Britain different from those in Northern Ireland? There are similarities such as improving relationship and sexuality education for young people, protecting services from cuts, advocating for the right of people with learning disabilities to express their sexuality safely and without fear of oppression. But of course the major difference is access to abortion services. 4. Why is it vital that women in Northern Ireland have access to abortion services? For very personal reasons, at some stage in their lives, some women will choose to end their pregnancy. This is not a new phenomenon. It astounds me that some politicians (thankfully not all) refuse to accept this and continue to draconically restrict access to abortion services in Northern Ireland. As well as a health issue it is an equality issue. 5. How does Northern Ireland’s current abortion law impact on women?

They are forced to leave their own country to access a health care service available in the rest of the UK so psychologically it makes some feel like criminals and guilty about what they are doing. However, most feel very angry at being placed in this situation because of the failure of politicians to recognise their right to this health care service. Because they are not entitled to an NHS abortion in Britain they have within a short period of time to raise between £600 to £2,000 depending on the gestation of the pregnancy. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the potential impact. 6. You were at the forefront of a long campaign to force the Department of Health to clarify the law on abortion in Northern Ireland. Will the draft guidelines on abortion currently out for consultation achieve this? The legal challenge succeeded in clarifying the law but what the guidelines do not do is provide clear direction as to how the law should be interpreted. 7. What are your views on the proposed changes to abortion law in the Republic – the Bill for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy? The tragic death of Savita Halappanavar clearly exposed how the life of a pregnant woman was secondary to the life of a foetus. This must never happen again and the Irish government has to introduce unambiguous legislation to ensure that it doesn’t. It remains to be seen that this Bill will deliver that. 8. What do you think of the sex and relationship education young people are getting in our schools? Interestingly it is statutory in the curriculum in Northern Ireland but not in England. FPA’s work

with young people in the community reveals that some schools have good programmes but others are mediocre. Ironically all young people will probably be taught Pythagoras’ theorem but will rarely use it in their adult life, whereas sex and relationships are endemic in everyone’s life. 9. How concerned are you about the impact cuts to NHS budgets will have on the provision of sexual health services? Often sexual health services are regarded an easy option to cut as they will be less controversial than, for example, reducing opening hours of an A&E department. But it is incredibly short sighted. Recently FPA and Brook commissioned an independent UK wide report on the financial implications of cuts to contraceptive and sexual health services and the results were startling. The inevitable outcome will be increased numbers of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. 10. What are the most rewarding aspects of your work? In Northern Ireland we provide community based personal development sexual health education projects for young people, parents and people with learning disabilities. It is incredibly rewarding to see the impact of this work, not just with regard to sexual health issues, but on the confidence levels and interpersonal skills of the participants. It is also very rewarding to support women and their families who come to us with an unplanned or crisis pregnancy. 11. How do you relax outside of work? Spending time with my family in Belfast and Texas. I also enjoy watching sport and go to Ulster rugby games and when I can to Manchester to watch the best team in the world, Manchester United.

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EATED WITH RESPECT The Health Minister Edwin Poots has apologised "unreservedly" at Stormont for the stress felt by residents of care homes in Northern Ireland earmarked for closure. Journalist Una Murphy finds out how older people are fighting back


lans to axe state run residential care homes in Northern Ireland will be raised in ‘Pensioners Parliaments’ in Belfast and Blackpool over coming weeks,VIEW can reveal. Pensioners are demanding more respect and for their voices to be heard on the issue of social care for older people in Northern Ireland, according to campaigners. Angela Ley, secretary of Unite Retired Members in Northern Ireland, said the matter will be raised at the National Pensioners Convention – the biggest pensioners’ organisation in the UK – in Blackpool next month. “Older people need to be treated with more respect and politicians need to listen to what we’re saying,” she said. “We live now in a sort of one person society and a lot of older people Patricia Donald don’t have anyone in their immediate family to turn to - with sons and daughters living away - and they can’t look after themselves. “The quality of life of some older people is badly affected if there is no consistency in the care provided to them. If is very difficult for older people when carers give them their meals at peculiar times and get them ready for bed at five or six o’clock in the evening.” Margaret Galloway, chair of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions retired members committee, said: “Government ministers and civil servants must listen to the voice and take action on what the older people have said. “Personally I would want care homes to be state run but if they are to be privatised I would prefer charities and other not-for-profit organisations running the homes rather than private companies,” she added. The Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament will debate the issue at the end of May. Jimmy Nixon, a member of the Northern Ireland Age Sector Platform health committee, said: “My big fear

I think the health service is being changed to make it easier for private operators to move in

is that we’re going to finish up eventually like the USA and ‘if you don’t have you don’t get’ when it comes to health and social care. “I think the health service is being changed to make it easier for private operators to move in.” The chair of the Age Sector Platform Patricia Donald said: “Older people’s voices must be at the heart of any changes.” She expects civil servants to have a “challenging” exchange with the 200 pensioners attending the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament. Ms Donald said that has been much heated discussion on the reform of the health service by older people in contact with the Age Sector Parliament. “Older people are concerned about the impact that these changes will have for them as they grow older and remain unconvinced that the resources are in place to achieve what is planned. “The recent announcements regarding the closure of care homes and the subsequent reaction has emphasised the need for proper consultation with older people regarding any changes to the health and social care service,” she said.

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Comment Patricia McKeown, Regional Secretary of UNISON NI, hits out at the debacle over the planned closures of NHS care homes

Members of UNISON in the RVH, Belfast, at a protest about the privatisation of the health service

‘Who is profiting from the decision to close care homes?’


he political scramble for cover as a result of public outrage over the closure of our NHS residential homes is sickening. Minister Poots passes the blame to Trusts. The First and Deputy First Ministers back Poots’ privatisation plans and blame the Health Department. Compton passes the buck back to Poots and MLAs point the finger at Trusts. The decision to withdraw from NHS residential care provision means that someone is making a profit. UNISON is asking: Who is in charge of this government? Who is influencing its decisions to privatise health and social care? Who is profiting from these decisions? For how much longer can we tolerate government ministers and senior health officials withholding the truth or telling outright lies? UNISON’s starting point is the rights of older, vulernable people in our society. The Health Minister has stated that there was evidence that there

would be no adverse health impact on residents as a result of his policies of closure and relocation. The Department of Health said it could not find the evidence. John Compton said no evidence existed. UNISON presents the widely available UK and international evidence that this involuntary

Where do our politicians stand when it comes to the future of the NHS?

transfer of older people can in fact create problems of mental and physical health and even bring premature death.

The evidence on the health effects, including mortality, of involuntary transfer has been produced by leading authorities such as Professor David Jolley a Consultant in the Psychiatry of Old Age. In Jackson vs Lancashire County Council Professor Jolley was instructed as a Court appointed witness. In his Report Professor Jolley says: “From common experience, from my clinical experience, and from an informed review of the literature, it is an inescapable truism that relocation is a stressful event and can precipitate problems of mental health, physical health and even bring forth death.” Instead of crying crocodile tears the Health Minister should stand down and leave the guardianship of our National Health Service to those who believe in its guiding principles – publicly owned and delivered and free at the point of need. We are challenging our politicians and our political parties to state where they stand on the future of the NHS. We are challenging them to be honest about the real impact of the massive budget cuts in health.

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Comment Duane Farrell, Director of Policy at Age NI, argues that older people deserve access to quality, choice, security and dignity

‘Spotlight shone on system that is not fit for purpose’

By 2021 the 80 plus population will have increased by 35 per cent


hen I think about care, I automatically think about protecting the people I love; what it means to do the right thing; and how I make sure my loved ones feel safe, respected and happy. Care is one of the most sensitive subjects any of us can face. 200,000 people in Northern Ireland are carers to children, parents, grandparents, siblings. They are caring for vulnerable people, frail people and people who are ill. Care touches the very heart of our community. And at the heart of it, we all want the best for the people we love who need additional support. That’s why it is so important that the support that is available is right. Social care for older people is no different. Age NI believes that older people deserve access to quality, choice, security and dignity whatever their care needs are. Those are simple, basic requirements that I want for my life now, never mind in the years to come. But these simple needs are not being met. The health and social care system we have in place today is no longer sustainable. It does not meet the needs of older people now, never mind have the ability to cope with the implications of demographic change. The cost of treating older people is expected to grow by 30% over the next 10

years. By 2021 the 80 plus population will have increased by 35 per cent. Right now, Health and Social Care Trusts are already rationing services by only offering support to people with very high levels of social care needs, and people with low or moderate needs do not receive any support at all. Age NI believe that this is a missed opportunity to keep older people healthy, active and engaged in their

The health and social care system we have in place today is no longer sustainable

communities, with the ultimate aim of preventing higher levels of need down the line. There is a clear case for social care reform and there is a unique, timely opportunity in

Northern Ireland to effect positive change now. Transforming Your Care as well as the recent DHSSPS consultation Who Cares? The Future Direction and Funding of Adult Social Care in Northern Ireland have finally shone a spotlight on the inadequacies of a system that is not fit for purpose for older people now, never mind us all as we age. However, we must also learn the lessons from the last few weeks and the failures that have caused older people distress and anxiety. Let’s start listening properly and give older people the right to the dignity, choice and independence that we all want. Let’s start empowering those people to participate meaningfully in any decisions that will affect their lives, and ensure that their voice is at the forefront of any change process. Age NI has been calling for a radical reform of the health and social system for many years. When the individual needs of older people are not being met, there is a clear problem. When social care is not enhancing the well-being of all our citizens, we are being failed. When it is not supporting older people to maintain their self esteem and dignity then something must change. I, for one, do not want someone I love and care for to experience this failure first-hand. And I do not want this for myself.

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Grants to support women into work WOMEN in the community and voluntary sector are being offered financial support to help them back into work. The Women’s Fund for Northern Ireland Brighter Futures Giving Circle has grants of up to £500 available for costs including childcare and interview training. Applicants must be affiliated to a constituted community or women’s group and have the support of that organisation. The scheme is administered by the Community Foundation who can be contacted for more details on 028 90245927.

Free football offer for girls

A same-sex marriage vote was defeated in the Northern Ireland Assembly

Amnesty: marriage ban may force gays to leave M

LAs’ refusal to support same-sex marriage risks driving young gay people out of Northern Ireland, Amnesty International has warned. A Sinn Fein motion calling on the Executive to legislate for same-sex marriage was defeated in the Assembly last month. Fifty unionists and three Alliances MLAs voted against the motion with 42 MLAs supporting it. A similar attempt failed last October. Plans are underway to legalise same-sex marriage in the rest of the UK. The Irish government has said it will hold a referendum on gay marriage next year. Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty's programme director in Northern Ireland, said Northern Ireland politicians had a responsibility to reflect the interests of all citizens. “I’m sure we all know of gay friends that have left Northern Ireland to live in London or elsewhere because of the feeling of intolerance. “Politicians have an opportunity to change that by signalling that they stand for equality for all citizens. Twice in the last six months they’ve had the opportunity to do that and they haven’t taken it and I think that does risk making Northern Ireland into a cold house for gay people. “This is an issue of equality and, irrespective of people’s individual religious beliefs, society’s laws need to respect all citizens equally and that isn’t happening at the moment.” Mr Corrigan said he believed the Executive could soon face a human rights case over its “discriminatory” laws. “I would expect it to happen once we see changes in the law elsewhere in the UK and gay people here are left in an inferior position.” Richard Nicholl, a law student at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, said he may not come back to Northern Ireland following the ‘no’ vote on gay marriage. “As a gay man, I don’t feel safe or welcome

TEENAGE girls who fancy giving football a try are being encouraged to sign up for free coaching sessions at Seaview Stadium in north Belfast. Girls aged 13 or over will receive one hour of coaching from female footballing pros and a two-hour workshop on the issues affecting young girls today. The first round of Tackling Issues will be hosted at Seaview Stadium on Monday, May 20 and Monday, May 27, from 6pm to 9pm and a few places are still available for each session. To register for either of both of the sessions, email giving your daughter’s name and date of birth. More sessions are planned for the autumn. Registration and consent is essential.

Have your say on adult learning THE Forum for Adult Learning NI is holding a free conference on Thursday, May 23, as part of Adult Learners’ Week 2013. The event, which will look at the current health of adult learning in Northern Ireland, is in NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast, from 10am until 12.30pm and is followed by a light lunch. Mark Ravenhall from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education will deliver a keynote address entitled ‘Where now for adult learning in Northern Ireland’. A variety of panel members will lead discussions. To secure a place please book online at

‘Discriminatory’: Patrick Corrigan in Northern Ireland. It is a very bigoted place when it comes to gay people, and I think the vote shows that. “Normally it’s less explicit, but when the House of Commons is so much in favour and Stormont is so against, it makes the difference really, really obvious.” The Equal Marriage Northern Ireland pressure group said that, despite the setback, they are confident that same-sex marriage will eventually be introduced in Northern Ireland. Spokesman Gavin Boyd said: “Obviously we are disappointed that the vote wasn’t successful but I don’t think any of us were under any misapprehensions of how it would shake out with the petition of concern in place. But we’re still pretty confident that equal marriage will be introduced in Northern Ireland – there’s a very clear consensus on this.” He said the group would “evaluate” the possibility of legal action when the law changes in the rest of the UK.

Data impact tool selected SOCIAL Impact Tracker which helps charities, voluntary and community groups, NGOs and social enterprises to collect data to measure and report on social impact has been selected as one of the three DigiBIC Award ( finalists to pitch at the DigiBIC workshop during the EBN Congress hosted by NORIBIC in Derry ( on May 31.

Repossessions: task force call WITH demand for mortgage debt advice at an all time high, Housing Rights Service says a task force is needed urgently to tackle the problem of repossessions. This follows publication of the latest Court Service figures which show the number of actions for possession have increased 33% in the last five years.

Practical advice and a sensitive personal approach. We pride ourselves on our unrivalled commitment to clients’ needs.

Edwards & Co. solicitors advises charities and the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland on a wide range of legal issues including charity creation, charitable status and constitutional matters, trading and commercial arrangements, employment law, finance, fundraising and property law, as well as dealing with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. Our team offers a full range of legal services including mediation, criminal law, clinical negligence and personal injury claims, as well as family/matrimonial work.

Contact Jenny and Teresa: Edwards & Co. Solicitors, 28 Hill Street, Belfast, BT1 2LA. Tel: (028) 9032 1863 Email: Web:

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Easy rider break

Matt Gillespie goes through his paces at T13 in the Titanic Quarter Images: Kevin Cooper

By Willis McBriar


shared cultural space offering urban sports including BMXing, skateboarding, micro-scootering, rollerblading and free running is helping to break down the barriers between young people in Belfast.

T13, a vast multi-use venue housed in an old shipbuilding warehouse in the Titanic Quarter, is the culmination of years of hard work by Matt Gillespie, his fellow directors and Belfast Urban Sports. Now it draws young people from across Northern Ireland with cutting edge urban sports facilities in a vibrant, safe and supported environment.

Classes and workshops, partially funded by Peace III money, provide training and buzz for up to 60 kids a night. Matt, who has competed at the highest level in the BMX World Championships, says T13 provides a neutral meeting ground for young people, who come from both communities. “Because urban sports have a

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ks the barriers

k of heritage that means nobody ns them. It is not a Protestant rt, it is not a Catholic sport, it sn’t have an emblem, it is not ched to a flag,” he says. “So whenever we have young ple in the building, from say andtown Primary School in east fast and St Patrick’s College, arnageeha in north Belfast, they me down and they don’t

necessarily know that they are there at the same time. Jonty doesn’t know that he is learning BMX with Donal - all they know is that they are in the same place at the same time, doing the same thing and they are going to have that good experience.” Matt says the classes, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, also break down traditional gender stereotypes.

“Girls do exceptionally well at it. Because they have never tried it before, they are much more willing to listen to the instructions. “So they will pick up the technique quicker than the boys who will have seen a BMX before, think they know what it is, get in there and show off.” • See for more information.

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My story Jo-Anne Dobson has spent years campaigning to get more people to join the organ transplant register after her youngest son Mark had to have a kidney transplant at fifteen. Now the Ulster Unionist MLA for Upper Bann tells View’s Julia Paul how she plans to change the law on organ donation in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Transplant Forum, which represents all the main groups campaigning for organ donation, supports the move to change the law

A mother’s love: Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson with her son


ark was diagnosed at five weeks old with having severe reflux of both kidneys. By that stage his right kidney had gone completely, and his left kidney was only working 19 per cent. So we spent the first years of his life at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. Then when he turned 13, and he started to grow, his kidneys started to shut down. We always knew the day would come when he would need a kidney transplant, but nothing prepares you for sitting in the consultant’s waiting room when they tell you your child has two years at most before he needs to go on a transplant list. Mark was exhausted just walking a few yards, but he’s always had a terrific attitude – he never, ever said ‘why me?’ Mark waited ten months for a suitable organ so he was fifteen when he had his transplant. I was halfway through being tested for a live donor programme. Because of the chronic shortage of organs, this is happening more and more – and you’d do anything for your child. We were very fortunate – he got his transplant. But people don’t realise that’s not the end of the story. Because he was so young, in all likelihood he will need another, in fact, he will need

Mark was a shadow of himself before his transplant. He couldn’t walk, he could hardly move, he was basically dying in front of us

possibly three transplants in his life. Mark’s consultant put it very aptly, she said: “Mark’s lucky, he’s got his transplant, but you’re money in the bank, your kidney might be used at some stage in the future”. Mark and I got involved early on to promote organ donation. We do a lot of fund raising, and also increasingly Mark and I would be asked to talk to people – because we’ve come through that

Image: Kevin experience, we know what it’s like to be given that diagnosis that you’re in end-stage renal failure. Mark was a shadow of himself before his transplant. He couldn’t walk, he could hardly move, he was basically dying in front of us. Now he has such a fulfilling life. He volunteers in my office and farms with his Dad. He’s up at six to feed the animals and then a quick shower and out with me. If people could see the difference a transplant makes I think they wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for the organ donor register. But the problem is many just don’t get round to it. Now I am bringing forward a Private Members’ Bill at the Assembly to change the law so that everyone is automatically put on the register, unless they choose to opt out. The next step is to consult with as many people as possible, starting in June, and anyone will be able to access the consultation document on my Twitter account @JoAnne_Dobson. I would say to anyone considering donating organs, think of the difference it could make. I know if you’ve lost a loved one you are going through a very traumatic experience. But if you could see that through your loss you’re allowing maybe five people to live, it means the death of your loved one hasn’t been in vain.

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Volunteer Amanda Boyd with Peter Morris of BT and Mary Connolly at a celebration event in Augher last year

Free online classes for rural communities


link-up between the charity Citizens Online and BT is now offering free classes to help people in the rural west of Northern Ireland get online. The informal sessions are tailored to suit the participants who typically learn to use the internet to keep in touch with friends and family, bank online, search for jobs and access services including a range of grant schemes for farmers. The six-week courses, which are suitable for all ages and abilities, are being taught by trained volunteers in community venues across counties Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Anita Kelly, project co-ordinator for

Citizens Online in Northern Ireland, said the classes help open up the benefits of the internet to people who are currently missing out. “We have super-fast broadband but the problem is that people don’t know how to access it,” she said. “And with Universal Credit coming in, people are going to be disadvantaged if they can’t use a computer and get online.” Anita said the scheme has already helped parents who had previously never even used email to connect with children working overseas. “Because the west is more rural and more isolated, getting online will reduce that isolation

- you can be connected to anyone in the world. “It could be their neighbour down the road that they may never see from one week to the next. But particularly with the number of family members who have moved abroad to look for work, they can keep in contact with them and do it for free using video calls. “It’s just opening up a whole world of opportunities for people in the west.” • For further information please contact Anita Kelly, Citizens Online project co-ordinator in Northern Ireland. Mob: 078 1857 3617 E:

About OCN NI Making the Difference Open College Network Northern Ireland

OCN NI Level 1 Award in Skills Towards Enabling Progression (Step-UP) (QCF)

Open College Network Northern Ireland is a nationally recognised Awarding Organisation regulated by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland). We work with national and local organisations to develop and widen access to high quality and flexible education, training and learning.

Qual No. 600/6247/2

OCN NI Level 1 Certificate in Skills Towards Enabling Progression (Step-UP) (QCF) Qual No. 600/6192/3

OCN NI Level 1 Diploma in Skills Towards Enabling Progression (Step-UP) (QCF) Qual No. 600/6217/4

A national awarding organisation

Our mission is to offer the best possible learning programmes and resources, and to put these opportunities in the hands of as many people as possible. We are a not for profit organisation and plough all of our resources back into the development of existing products, services and new qualifications.

For more information on this qualification as well as any other OCN NI’s products and services, please visit our website at or phone us on 02890 463990

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Mum forced out of home over bedroom tax takes her own life A

woman who feared being forced out of her home by the bedroom tax has killed herself in England. Stephanie Bottrill, who was 53 and from Solihull in the West Midlands, died in the early hours of May 4 after being hit by a lorry near her home. Friends and neighbours said the mother of two was worried about how she would afford an extra £80 a month because of cuts to her housing benefit. Mrs Bottrill had lived in her three-bedroom home for 18 years. Under the bedroom tax, introduced in Britain on April 1 but still being considered by politicians here, she was deemed to be ‘over-occupying’ her house. She faced either finding the money or moving house. She left a note blaming the government for

Tragic death: Stephanie Bottrill her death. “It's my life, the only people to blame are the government,” she wrote. Her son Steven said: “It feels like a dream. They've put all this pressure on her and I've lost

my mum now.” Her local council had offered Mrs Bottrill another house around six miles away. But her son said she feared becoming cut off from her friends and family. Under the bedroom tax, people in social housing lose 14% of their housing benefit if they are deemed to have one extra room and 25% if they have two or more. If the cuts to housing benefit are introduced in Northern Ireland, around 32,000 households will be affected. Critics including the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute of Housing have warned that the policy would cause even more problems here, because of the segregated nature of our social housing. Stormont is currently deadlocked over the welfare cuts, including the bedroom tax.

Packed workshop at VIEWdigital masterclass Women working in the community and voluntary sector at a VIEWdigital Practical MultiMedia Production workshop led by former BBC broadcast technologist and trainer Willis McBriar at WOMEN'S TEC, Belfast. A Broadcast Media workshop for senior women in the Third Sector led by Julia Paul is planned for June 5, with a Social Strategy workshop led by Louise Friel pencilled in for June 13. They are part of a series of media masterclasses organised by VIEWdigital. For more details on the masterclasses see: or contact Una Murphy email: Image: Kevin Cooper

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Visually impaired team top of league

Lisburn Rovers, a team of footballers with visual impairments led by captain Niall Dempsey, has won the English Impairment League in their first season. Niall also scooped the VIFL Division 2 player of the year trophy. The squad, which trains weekly at Lisburn Leisureplex, is run in partnership with the Irish Football Association and RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind)

Homeless centre destroyed in arson attack reopens doors By Lucy Gollogly


n organisation that provides vital services to the homeless has reopened following an arson attack that gutted its west Belfast drop-in centre. The Welcome Centre’s premises off the Falls Road were badly damaged in the overnight blaze in January. The organisation’s files and valuable equipment including computers and furniture were destroyed. The charity had been due to relocate to a new centre in Northumberland Street, but the fire meant staff and volunteers had to move in immediately to keep the service going. Director Sandra Moore said: “There was an awful lot of work that had to be done very suddenly but in true Welcome Organisation style and in our supporters’ style, we opened the doors and everybody just got stuck in. “By 8.30am on the morning of the fire, people were serving tea and toast in the new drop-in centre.” Sandra said staff, volunteers, clients, members of the public and other voluntary organisations donated necessities and helped get the new centre up and running. “We couldn’t have done it without the good will and support of so many,” she said. The new, larger centre means the organisation is able to help 30 per cent more people than was possible in the old building. Now the charity supports around 100 people a day, offering food, clothing, hot showers, as well as advice and support. Sandra said the fire, although devastating, allowed clients to take ownership of the new

Back in business: Welcome centre on Northumberland Street, Falls Road, Belfast centre. “I always had a concern about how people would fit into the new centre which is much more spacious than where we were previously in. “However, on the morning of the fire, the clients all took on tasks – they were cleaning the new centre and sorting out furniture and food as it came in – so it gave the clients ownership from the start, which was absolutely tremendous.” She added: “I would suggest clients actually feel more valued now because of the way in

which the community rallied around them, and were so supportive of what we were doing.” Now it is onwards and upwards for the rejuvenated service. “We’re moving on fast and the next stage will be to engage with the clients and see what additional services they would like. “We certainly have more space to deliver training and social activities – just broaden the whole range of what we can offer, and indeed offer other community organisations working in this area.”

VIEW, issue 15, 2013

The Big Picture Jane Gribben of Volunteer Now is engulfed by eager cheerleaders who put on a spectacular routine for over 400 young recipients of the Millenium Volunteer Award at Titanic Belfast. The Awards recognise the sustained volunteering commitment given by young people through the Millennium Volunteers Programme Image: Belfast If you would like your community/ voluntary organisation to be selected for The Big Picture in the next issue of VIEW, send images, marked ‘big picture entry’, to

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VIEW, issue 15, 2013

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VIEW, issue 15, 2013

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A Lyttle touch goes a long way By Tracy Dempsey


Jazz artist David Lyttle, who is Belfast’s Beat Carnival’s new musician in residence, at the video shoot for his single Celebrate Image: Paul Irwin –

elfast’s Beat Carnival have commissioned one of Northern Ireland’s most successful young musicians to help develop the skills of our next wave of artistic talent. David Lyttle, already a household name in Irish jazz, is gaining recognition as an urban music artist thanks to his latest album, Interlude. He has collaborated with many top-class musicians, including Mercurynominated Soweto Kinch, US rapper iLLspokinN of Run DMC and Adele’s bassist Pino Palladino. Now the Beat Carnival are bringing his expertise to local musicians as their first musician in residence. The Beat Carnival has a long history of artistic skills development in Belfast. This year, the Beat are changing focus from classic Latin American rhythms to hip-hop and dance music. David kicked off his residency with the first in a series of music masterclasses at the Beat Carnival Centre. He is currently working on a dance track featuring Beatndrum, Rhea and Duke Special. Celebrate, due to be released on iTunes on June 23, will also be performed in the Beat Carnival’s 2013 production, Urban Ballet – the Belfast leg of a fourcountry urban arts project involving South Africa, Portugal and France. See for information.


community/voluntary publication


community/voluntary publication