A new pilot scheme run by the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland has awarded two £15,000 grants to innovative new projects set to make a big difference to disabled and disadvantaged people.
Angel Eyes NI and Portadown Cares 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 to help parents to understand their child’s world.
Sara McCracken, CEO of Angel Eyes NI, who has two visually impaired children, said the new technology would help give an insight to parents, health professionals and classroom assistants on each child’s daily routines at home, in the classroom and playground in order to give the appropriate level of support for each child.
She added: “It is going to make a tangible difference both to the parents we support and the healthcare professionals who will benefit from the technology we are creating. We would like to thank the Foundation for their support in enabling us to take this project forward.”
Dr David Trainor an IT expert helping Angel Eyes NI to develop the new technology said the grant would be invaluable: “Most technology supports the visually impaired person so to use it to support parents and professionals to understand a visually impaired world is a new concept.”
Portadown Cares impressed the judges with their idea of a six month pilot project helping young people with Learning Difficulties cope with independent living.
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 ‘Lucy’ an 18-year-old 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 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.”
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.
Before the pitching session took place, all eight charities were given some tips for their presentations by Matthew Teague of Entrepreneurial Spark, who said: “What an amazing programme and opportunity for Northern Ireland’s social entrepreneurs to put forward creative and innovative ways of delivering positive social impact in local communities.”
For more information about the work of the Foundation go to www.halifaxfoundationni.org