Council support for Babybank and Men’s Shed in Carrickfergus

The Babybank provides starter packs for families who are struggling.
The Babybank provides starter packs for families who are struggling.

Two Carrickfergus projects are making a difference to their communities and the most vulnerable in society with council support.

The Open Door Centre, which is home to the Babybank, and the Men’s Shed are doing their part to make life that little bit easier.

Run by Nicolle Baxter and Holly Clarke, the Bridewell Drive-based Babybank - one of only a few in Northern Ireland - helps to alleviate child poverty and to support families in need at a time of financial and emotional stress.

They collect baby clothes, toiletries, equipment, cots, prams and toys that are pre-loved and pass them on to families in need.

Nicholle and Holly receive referrals from local professionals who work with vulnerable families and then put together enough supplies for five days for the families.

Nicolle said: “Holly and I felt there was a real need for the Babybank and so we set it up in May last year using the Open Door Centre as our base.

“We get referrals and then make up a five day starter pack for families who are struggling. We supply them with nappies, wipes, clothes, toiletries and anything else they need to help care for their child.”

The Babybank is open on Thursdays from 6-7:30pm and Friday mornings from 9:30-11am.”

Meanwhile, the Men’s Shed, located in the Carrick and District Pigeon Club at Shaftesbury Park, have completely transformed their building thanks to funding from council.

With joinery workshops, an arts and crafts area, a small kitchen and a social space for a cuppa, the Men’s Shed has become a haven for many.

Most of the men who attend live alone so this is their place to socialise and engage with others.

Back in 2018 the building that the Men’s Shed is housed in had been neglected with no heating, no electricity and a floor with severe damp. But the group had a vision and they have turned the building into a fully functional venue.

With funding, they have repaired floors, installed heating, rewired the lighting and recently installed a chair lift enabling access for all.

Chairman, Jay Thompson, said: “We have used our own knowledge and skills to make this the place it is today. I would invite anyone to come along regardless of what age you are. This is a space for all men where you can have a place to enjoy your hobbies and form friendships.”

The group’s next project, subject to funding, is to create a number of Buddy Benches for schools in the area.

The Men’s Shed is open every day from 10am-1pm and everyone is welcome to attend.

For more information on council funding visit www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/resident/grants/