LEDCOM staff and East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson have tipped their hats to an Islandmagee family’s “Hats off to Nepal” social media campaign.
The awareness-raising campaign by the Prendy family aims to keep the struggle of Nepal earthquake victims in the public sphere.
The family’s Go Build-Nepal initiative has set a fundraising target of £10,000 to build 25 homes in the disaster-stricken country.
The campaign’s founders Jane Prendy, who took part in Ledcom’s EEP 2 course, and her Nepalese husband Rishi Kunwar, who took part in the LAE course in counselling, spoke at a Ledcom reception to celebrate the participation of over 800 adults in adult education events.
Rishi has completed his Level 4 in counselling and is applying for a foundation degree course at Belfast Metropolitan College, while Jane has used her new skills to set up her own business.
Rishi told guests that the training he received at Ledcom had benefited the family’s fundraising efforts.
“The social media workshops on the programme have helped us to network with people around the world,” he stated.
“We have already raised £4,060 to build ten homes and our goal is now to build 25 homes.
“We are going to Nepal in August and Will be working directly with people on the ground to put this money to good use.”
The event marked the end of the LAE programme, which had been funded by the Department of Employment and Learning. The EEP 2 programme is due to be replaced by EEP 3.
Chief Executive of Ledcom Ken Nelson told attendees that the shelving of programmes such as the Learner Access and Engagement (LAE) Programme could greatly undermine efforts to help disadvantaged individuals and groups find employment.
“Our work on the LAE Programme over the past two years has shown the great demand and need for such initiatives. We hope that it will be reinstated in the near future if and when economic conditions become more favourable,” he commented.
LAE, a joint programme delivered by LEDCOM and the Northern Regional College, had engaged 619 adults from September 2013 to January 2015, providing them with essential skills and access to further education ourses.
Of those, 279 participants were from Larne, 117 from Carrickfergus, and 60 from rural Newtownabbey (Ballyclare, Ballynure and Doagh).
A total of 55 per cent of participants achieved a recognised qualification, with others are still awaiting results.
Ledcom’s project manager Patricia Brennan stated: “Returning to education can be a daunting step but through the LAE we were able to support and encourage more than 600 adults along this journey. Our team were hugely successful in reaching out to local people and encouraging them to take this first step in re-entering mainstream education.”
Chair of Northern Regional College Carmel McKinney OBE praised the hard work of the adult learners and acknowledged the effective community-based relationship between the NRC and LEDCOM to deliver the LAE Programme.
She said: “The LAE Programme was a shining success in delivering education and skills to hundreds of ‘hard to reach’ adults and offering them the chance of a bright new future. It is disappointing that due to funding cuts, the Department for Employment and Learning has been unable to renew the programme, which provided an invaluable service to the community.
“We are in a period of financial austerity but I think it is important to express disappointment that due to funding cuts LAE has stopped for now. “However, the demand for such programmes is very high and it is very clear that we need to go further.”
LEDCOM also delivered a total of 22 courses on the EEP 2 programme – 13 in Larne, five in Ballymena and four in Carrickfergus, with 211 adults achieving the CCEA Level 2 Understanding Business Enterprise qualification – a 100 per cent pass rate. Of those, 125 were from Larne, 50 from Ballymena and 36 from Carrickfergus.
Many of the participants went on to achieve success in employment or self-employment or continued with further education.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Councillor Billy Ashe paid tribute to everyone who had taken part in the courses.
“The high number of participants has shown the real hunger for people to improve their circumstances and find real, lasting jobs,” he stated.
“Organisations such as LEDCOM and the NRC have worked hard to provide new skills and offer support, assistance and hope.
“It would be a tragedy if this expertise is lost to a new generation of jobseekers.”