Access Employment Limited (AEL) in Larne welcomed a delegation from the Department of Finance last week to its premises at Pound Street.
David Hunter, CEO of AEL, said: “We were delighted to welcome the board from the Department of Finance. It’s great to see government departments taking a real interest in our work which is essentially about delivering social change whilst creating a real economic impact within Mid and East Antrim.”
AEL is a social enterprise that provides people aged 16 to 60 years who have a learning disability, Asperger’s, autism or other disadvantage with training and employment opportunities.
The company seeks to provide both training and employment for disadvantaged adults across the Mid and East Antrim area and beyond. AEL has started a number of new social enterprise businesses in the Larne area which has seen its workforce grow from 13 in 2012 to 48 in 2018.
Income during this time has seen an impressive increase from £272,000 to an expected £1.5m in 2019.
AEL believes that critical to its success in recent years has been its ability to forge strong working partnerships with those in the public and private sectors.
Sue Gray, Department of Finance Permanent Secretary said: “The Department’s Board has committed to taking our monthly Board meetings out to organisations in the community across Northern Ireland. This outreach is so important to see first-hand the impact and contribution organisations like Access Employment Limited are making.
“Board members had the opportunity to hear about the wide range of sustainable employment projects and training opportunities the social enterprise has successfully delivered which is making a positive impact on so many people. Thank you to AEL for hosting us.”
Last November, AEL celebrated two decades of social enterprise in Larne. Fifty people are employed by the company and AEL has more than 100 trainees.
The company’s base, formerly Centrepoint, is now known as Larne Community Hub. The company’s water bottling business, which trades under the name of “Clearer Water”, had a turnover of £200,000 in just two years.