Members of the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme Partnership in Ballymena - community representatives from community organisations based in Ballee, Ballykeel & Harryville, Mid & East Antrim BC staff and Dept for Communities staff attended a Capacity building best practice visit to Access Employment Ltd (AEL) in Larne on 3 December.
All received a detailed tour of the social enterprises based at the facility which included presentations from the Chief Executive Officer of AEL, David Hunter. These enterprises include - Candyrush Packaging & Assembly, Sample Making, Lunchbox Café, Allotments & Market Garden, and Clearer water.
AEL provides people aged 16 – 60 who have learning disability/difficulty, Asperger’s, autism or other disadvantages, with training and employment opportunities, enhancing their lifestyle, and thus allowing them to engage more effectively in the community.
We are all very appreciative to David Hunter and all the staff at AEL for their warm welcome and tour of their facilities which provided an invaluable insight into the various models of social enterprise development, employment opportunities, partnership working and training programmes.
The feedback from the representatives on the visit highlighted their appreciation to everyone including the following comments:
"The whole project as a fine example of how an underused building can be redeveloped as a Social Enterprise which sells items not only across the whole UK, but internationally as well" (Raglan Community Development Renovation Society)
"Brilliant place growing your own veg and flowers for use in your cafe. Having your own chickens and your very own watering source. It's great to know that there will be a good workplace for up and coming young people with learning difficulties." (Ballykeel Together Development Association)