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Banbridge students learn mindfulness skills in 'Compassionate Schools' project

More than 350 Year 8 students in Banbridge have been learning mindfulness and relaxation t...

Clare McCarty conferred as honorary member of RSUA

Clare McCarty, the outgoing Group Chief Executive of Clanmil Housing Association, has been...

Strive and Thrive helps Newtownabbey young people build employability skills

12 young people from Newtownabbey learned valuable skills to boost their employment prospe...

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Banbridge students learn mindfulness skills in 'Compassionate Schools' project

22 November 2021

More than 350 Year 8 students in Banbridge have been learning mindfulness and relaxation techniques as part of a health and wellbeing programme supported by Clanmil Housing.


Students and teachers from Banbridge High School, St Patrick's College and New Bridge Integrated school took part in the Compassionate Schools project supported by Clanmil Housing.

The Growing Together Compassionate Schools Project began on 14th September and continued until the end of October 2021, taking place across three secondary schools in Banbridge.

Students from Banbridge High School, St Patrick's College and New Bridge Integrated took part in the programme – which included a series of health and wellbeing 'Connecting Through Compassion' workshops – learning about mindfulness and relaxation to help reduce the stress around starting a new school. They also discovered techniques to help improve focus and concentration during the school day and at home.

The 11 and 12 year olds have benefited from interacting with their peers from different backgrounds across the three schools and have been sharing what they've learned with other young people. Some of the resources they've produced are a video that includes messages of encouragement and mindfulness games that can be used in pastoral classes, as well as creating worry jars, gratitude jars and good luck cards.

The participants have also been keeping in touch through virtual Zoom sessions, to build upon what they've learned in the initial workshops.

The programme was facilitated by mindfulness specialist and founder of the Connecting Minds project, Laura Donaghy, who described the benefits:

"Social emotional learning among our young people promotes brain development, supports positive psychological health and enhances emotional intelligence. Mindfulness cultivates integration, creating an inner sense of calm and clarity for the student. Mindfulness also cultivates an interpersonal way of being integrated into the community. The students become more empathetic, compassionate and connected."

Laura continued:

"It has been a pleasure working with both the students and teachers of the three schools in the Banbridge area and Clanmil Housing Community Cohesion team. I am honoured to have been able to facilitate an online, cross community and interactive space for the students of Banbridge, resulting in such positive outcomes for all involved."

Austin Kelly, Community Cohesion Officer with Clanmil Housing said:

"As part of Clanmil's commitment to developing shared neighbourhoods, we were delighted to work in partnership with three secondary schools in Banbridge to deliver this project. We hope that the young people will share what they've learned with others, including their friends, family and the wider community."

Joanne Hylands, a teacher at Banbridge High School, described the programme as "a great opportunity for the three schools to provide workshops that encouraged positive social interaction".

She added:

"In times of increasing financial constraints, the support of Clanmil Housing is invaluable. Many young people have struggled with isolation and anxiety caused by lockdown restrictions and this project has really helped them find ways to cope. It has been really encouraging to see young people from different schools and backgrounds working together and reaching out to their peers, to help them make the transition to secondary school."

Clanmil has allocated £4,670 to the project as part of a Good Relations Plan within Hawthorn Gardens in Banbridge, its shared neighbourhood development which opened in 2019.

Hawthorn Gardens is one of the initial 10 T:buc developments, which were a headline action in the NI Executive T:buc Strategy.

Clanmil Housing continues to work in partnership with the local Advisory Group stakeholders, and with residents to develop the scheme's Good Relations Plan.

The Compassionate Schools Project is supported through the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy, which reflects the Executive's commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.

The Hawthorn Gardens shared housing development is also supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

A total of £2,401,983 was invested in the scheme's development and associated five-year Good Relations Plan. This includes the Housing Association Grant of £2,058,506 and TBUC/ Good Relations Support of £343,477.

Clanmil Housing Association currently has five shared housing developments across Northern Ireland and is promoting a further three.

The Hawthorn Gardens Good Relations Plan includes 'Bridging' events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Health and Wellbeing, Education and Training.

Further information

For information about the Together: Building a United Community please visit:

The Executive Office - Together: Building a United Community


For more information about the Shared Housing Programme please visit:

Department for Communities - Shared Housing Programme




Clare McCarty conferred as honorary member of RSUA

08 November 2021

Clare McCarty, the outgoing Group Chief Executive of Clanmil Housing Association, has been made an honorary member of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects.


Clanmil Housing Group Chief Executive Clare McCarty with RSUA President Donal MacRandal

The honour, which was presented at the RSUA's annual Architecture Night event recently, was conferred on Ms McCarty in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the built environment and the advancement of the role of architecture in creating more sustainable communities.



Clanmil Housing Group Chief Executive Clare McCarty with Clanmil Housing Vice Chair, Maria McCann and RSUA President Donal MacRandal

Presenting the award, President of the RSUA, Donal Mc Randal said:

"Clare has led Clanmil Housing Association with distinction for over 37 years, creating quality homes, and building shared neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland. Under her leadership, Clanmil has been recognised with many awards for the design quality of its homes and its commitment to regeneration and the built heritage. On behalf of the RSUA, I wish to thank Clare for her immense contribution".

Clare McCarty accepting the honour, said:

"I am delighted and proud to receive this prestigious honour and to have had the opportunity throughout my career with Clanmil to contribute to building homes for people to live better. Social housing has come a long way over the last 37 years and many challenges remain, not least in promoting shared neighbourhoods as a route to a more shared society."

Under Clare's leadership Clanmil has grown to become one of Northern Ireland's leading housing associations, now providing more than 5,500 homes for over 10,000 people, with an annual turnover of £38M and employing 300 plus people.

Through Clare's vision, the derelict historic Northern Whig building in Waring Street was transformed into a modern headquarters for Clanmil in 1999. This helped pave the way for the redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter area.

Clare was elected as first female Chair of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Northern Ireland in 2004. She also served as Northern Ireland Chair of the Chartered Institute of Housing from 2001-2003. The contribution she has made to social housing was recognised when she was awarded an OBE in 2007.

The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) is the professional body for chartered architects in Northern Ireland with c.850 chartered members.




Strive and Thrive helps Newtownabbey young people build employability skills

01 November 2021

12 young people from Newtownabbey learned valuable skills to boost their employment prospects, improve their health and wellbeing and gain self-confidence during a six-week programme delivered by Clanmil Housing in partnership with Bryson.

The 'Strive and Thrive' programme took place in Belfast last month, giving participants, aged 16 years and older, the chance to take part in various 'bite size' employability workshops to increase their knowledge about CV building, personal development, interview techniques and job searching.

Throughout the six-week programme, the basic principles that define 'Good Relations' including respect, understanding and sharing, ran through all sessions.

As well as classroom-based sessions, the young people had the opportunity to take part in outdoor challenges and activities, including canoeing, kayaking and zorbing.

Clanmil's Community Cohesion Officer, Gerard Rosato said:

"The Strive and Thrive programme is just one of a number of initiatives that Clanmil Housing is engaged in as part of its Felden Tbuc/Shared Communities initiative. It is hoped that this type of project will assist our young people to reach their full potential by enhancing their skills base in terms of seeking employment as well as giving them the confidence to consider further education or skills training as their next step after leaving school."

Roisin McBride from Bryson said:

"We were delighted that Clanmil supported the Bryson Strive and Thrive programme. As well as learning skills in goal setting and job seeking, the young people who took part developed new friendships and were able to meet face to face for most of the workshops and during the outdoor activities. Many young people have missed out on social interaction during the last 18 months, and it was important that they were able to be with their peers in a safe, socially distanced way."

Roisin added:

"It was very rewarding to see their confidence develop each week. There have been really positive results from the programme, with some of the participants returning to school to complete A-Levels, some returning to further training, while others have been successful in gaining part-time employment."

One of the participants, Annalisha, described her experience of Strive and Thrive:

"It was a really educational programme that helped me with lots of CV skills and the staff were lovely and really friendly."

Strive and Thrive was a 'bridging' programme that was developed from the Felden Good Relations Plan. Bridging events and programmes are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which relate to health and wellbeing, education and training.

Felden in Newtownabbey is one of Clanmil's shared housing developments and was established in 2016 as part of the NI Executive Together: Building A United Community Strategy.

Strive and Thrive was supported through the NI Executive Together: Building A United Community Strategy, which reflects the Executive's commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.

The Felden shared housing development is also supported by the Department for Communities and the NI Housing Executive. £6.03m funding was invested in the scheme's development and the roll out of the associated five-year Good Relations Plan.

Clanmil continues to work in partnership with the Felden local Advisory Group and residents to develop the Good Relations Plan, which seeks to build good relationships and a sustainable community.

For further information on the NI Executive Together Building a United Community visit:

The Executive Office - Together: Building a United Community





Newcastle P7s are on a roll with sports programme

25 October 2021

80 children in Year 7 from St Mary's and Newcastle Primary schools are learning important life skills and boosting their confidence at a 10-week programme funded by Clanmil Housing.



The 'Honour Roll Schools Programme' is being delivered by US and NI-based charity Sport Changes Life with support from Clanmil.




It incorporates a multi-sport programme with inspirational workshop discussions to help with the transition from primary to secondary school.




Each weekly session lasts for 90 minutes and uses sport to connect with young people, focussing on different topics that equip them for life in secondary school.

Workshop topics include: hopes and fears, bullying, staying safe online, healthy lifestyles, goal setting, health and wellbeing and more.

An important part of the programme is encouraging an understanding of diversity and good relations and this is done through the theme of Olympic sports.

Philip Whyte, Community Cohesion Officer for Clanmil said:

"We are delighted to support this important programme which will help these young people learn new skills and develop confidence as they prepare to move from primary to secondary school. Clanmil is committed to working with people of all ages and from all backgrounds in the Newcastle community. Initiatives like this one are part of our ongoing community engagement and outreach work as we continue to promote Clanmil's shared housing development at the former Mourne Observer site on Castlewellan Road."

Aimee O'Higgins, who is from Newcastle, is a Sports Mentor with Sport Changes Life and delivers programmes for young people throughout Northern Ireland.

She described how the workshops have been going so far:

"It is fantastic to be working with Clanmil to deliver the Honour Roll Programme in St Mary's and Newcastle Primary. I can already see how the levels of confidence have really grown among the year 7s taking part, which is so rewarding for us. In the workshops the young people learn team-building skills through a variety of sports and have a chance to open up in the group discussions, sharing their hopes and fears about the transition to 'big' school, as well as having fun with their peers."

Clanmil's site at Castlewellan Road is a new development of 11 three-bedroom family homes. It is being developed as part of 'Housing for All', the Department for Communities and Northern Ireland Housing Executive's Shared Housing Programme, and it forms part of the Programme for Government. 

Clanmil is in the process of setting up an Advisory Group of stakeholders who will advise and support the development of a Good Relations Plan for the shared development and wider communities. The Sports Changes Life programme is one of the initiatives being delivered as part of the promotion stage of the plan.

The Castlewellan Road development is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive's 'Housing for All' Shared Housing Programme.  The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive's commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. Almost £900,000 has been invested in the Castlewellan Road shared housing development and the promotion of the associated one-year Good Relations Plan.

Clanmil Housing currently has five shared housing developments across Northern Ireland and is promoting a further three.

The Castlewellan Road Good Relations Plan will include 'Bridging' events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Health and Wellbeing, Education and Training.

Further information

For information about the Together: Building a United Community please visit:

The Executive Office - Together: Building a United Community https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/articles/about-together-building-united-community-tbuc

For more information about the Shared Housing Programme please visit:

Department for Communities - Shared Housing Programme https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/shared-housing-programme



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Latest News

Banbridge students learn mindfulness skills in 'Compassionate Schools' project

More than 350 Year 8 students in Banbridge have been learning mindfulness and relaxation t...

Clare McCarty conferred as honorary member of RSUA

Clare McCarty, the outgoing Group Chief Executive of Clanmil Housing Association, has been...

Strive and Thrive helps Newtownabbey young people build employability skills

12 young people from Newtownabbey learned valuable skills to boost their employment prospe...