£15,000 grants will make huge difference to people’s lives

Imelda McMullan (third from left) chair of the judging panel congratulates (left to right) James Dunbar, Maxine Chambers and David Taylor from Portadown Cares for their successful pitch. The organisation will receive �15,000 from the Halifax Foundation for NI in its Pitching for Pounds pilot project.
Imelda McMullan (third from left) chair of the judging panel congratulates (left to right) James Dunbar, Maxine Chambers and David Taylor from Portadown Cares for their successful pitch. The organisation will receive �15,000 from the Halifax Foundation for NI in its Pitching for Pounds pilot project.

A Portadown-based organisation that helps people with learning disabilities prepare for independent living was one two groups awarded £15,000 in a new pilot scheme run by the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland.

Portadown Cares impressed the judges with their idea of a six month pilot project helping young people with Learning Difficulties cope with living on their own.

The organisation is a small, local charity made up of volunteers providing skills for life for people with Learning Difficulties. One of their clients is a woman with Down’s Syndrome and a survivor of sexual abuse.

She has just moved out of foster care and for the past six months the charity has been equipping her with the basic skills to live on her own – cooking, cleaning, education and training, job skills and learning about positive relationships.

David Taylor chair of Portadown Cares said: “Everyone was so worthy of the money. It will make such a difference to some young people’s lives by giving them the independence they need and let them know that somebody cares.”

Portadown Cares and Angel Eyes NI were among eight organisations given the opportunity to take part in ‘Pitching for Pounds’ - a new pilot project run by the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland.

They pitched their new ideas in front of a judging panel of Halifax Foundation trustees and Imelda McMillan, chair of the judging panel, hoped the programme would be even bigger next year.

“We were very impressed by the standard of pitching and the quality of the ideas put forward by all eight organisations, each of which was more than deserving of grants but we had to pick two winners.

“The judging panel found that Angel Eyes NI and Portadown Cares stood out and we are delighted to allocate £15,000 to each organisation to make their exciting ideas a reality. We can’t wait to see their projects up and running soon.”

Angel Eyes NI pitched the idea of new technology supporting parents and professionals to change the support that is currently delivered to visually impaired children.

The £15,000 will be used to develop this technology.

The remaining six charities each received grants of £400 to help with their projects. The eight organisations were chosen from 133 applicants from across Northern Ireland.

The other groups pitching for pounds included Assistance Dogs, the Buddy Bear Trust, PEAT, the LCC Community Trust, GenderJam NI and the Eating Disorders Association.