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Clanmil Blog

Recent Entries

Close Community Working Key to Killard Success (16th September 2016)

What Community Development has meant for one North Belfast Neighbourhood (31st Aug 2016)

Programme for Government - we hope... (19th May 2016)

Making Great Places (4th May 2016)

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Independent, Active and Connected (13th April 2016)

“But you’re a Housing Association?” (8th April 2016)

Building Homes for All (21st March 2016)




“But you’re a Housing Association?”

8th April 2016

by Philip Whyte, community Cohesion Officer


Philip helps Women’sTec tutor Kelli and Katelyn (2) plant out a new community garden at Linen Court and Gardens in Belfast

But you’re a Housing Association? Why would you be doing this sort of work? Why would you be helping us?

These are the questions we are asked when we first introduce SPEC to our tenants.

And why wouldn’t they question what we are doing? After all Clanmil is a housing association tasked with building, providing and looking after homes. That is our primary function but at Clanmil we are more than a housing association, we recognise that you can’t build communities with bricks and mortar alone and we are committed to investing in improving the lives of our tenants.

Supporting People, Empowering Communities (SPEC) is a Clanmil programme providing skills and employability training to our tenants and the wider community.

The £850,000 programme which is open to both women and men, has been developed in partnership with Women’sTEC, the largest provider of training for women in non-traditional skills in Northern Ireland. It is part funded by the Northern Ireland European Social Fund 2014 - 2020 – Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme, the Department of Employment and Learning, Belfast City Council and private sector organisations, Gilbert-Ash Construction Group and JMC Mechanical and Construction Ltd.

Through SPEC, participants can access a range of entry-level programmes including accredited training in Joinery, Plumbing, Electrics, Horticulture, Furniture Making, Painting and Decorating, Tiling, Entrepreneurship, Money Management, Computers, First Aid, Health & Safety and ICT.

SPEC is still in its infancy but already it is having positive impacts on the lives of our tenants. One tenant involved in a training programme in tiling said it was a lifeline for her. She is a fulltime carer and is mainly confined to her home most days. She was keen to explore the idea of getting back to work but wasn’t sure if she had the confidence, time or ability to do so. Attending the course has brought a new confidence to her life, as well as new friendships leading to a new network of support, and has proved to her that she can be both a carer and employed, even on a part time basis.

In the past year, over 140 students have participated in SPEC. Participants have gained 115 qualifications in the trades helping to equip them for the world of work, which is exactly what SPEC is designed to do - getting tenants who are unemployed or under employed back on the road to employment by giving them the practical skills and qualifications to do so.

But, for me, SPEC’s added value is just as important. Tenants who have participated have a new confidence. They have developed new friendships with their neighbours thus improving community spirit. This in turn has led to a sense of pride in their neighbourhood, a sense of belonging. The knock on effect for Clanmil as a housing association is positive participation from our tenants – by sitting on our tenants’ fora, by actively helping to organize local events or by encouraging others to participate.

The question from our tenants is no longer why. Now they ask what are we going to do next? Can my neighbour get involved? Is there anything we can help with?

Here at Clanmil, we’re excited to see how this all develops in the future.




Latest News

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