by Colm McDaid
Our Chair, Lorraine Campbell, rightly provided the first blog post for Supporting Communities earlier this year and I am delighted to be contributing a second following the launch of our new trading subsidiary, Empowering Communities Enterprise Ltd, on the 25th April in the Skainos Centre, Belfast.
It was an auspicious occasion in the 38-year organisational life cycle of Supporting Communities and I was delighted that so many colleagues from Housing Associations, the Housing Executive, Department for Communities and Department of Finance, as well as many 3rd sector organisations took time from their busy schedules to share in celebrating the launch marking this historic day. I was particularly pleased to welcome Paddy Gray, the "#1 Power Player in UK Housing" and Nicola McCrudden, Director of CIH NI & RoI. It was certainly a ‘Who’s Who’ in the world of social housing in Northern Ireland.
I was also especially glad to welcome Ben Collins, the new Chief Executive of NIFHA, along with many Housing Associations representatives present to hear, first hand, about the range of quality, bespoke services that Empowering Communities will able to provide as part of a membership offer.
The launch of Empowering Communities not only marks a very exciting time for Supporting Communities but also a somewhat emotional time as we think back on all the wonderful colleagues and friends who have been part of our journey, including Brian Holmes, our founder, as well as those, past and present, who have contributed to making Supporting Communities the thriving organisation that it is today.
As one of four very passionate and able Trustees including Joe Simpson, our inaugural Chair, Steve Pollard, and Darryl Petticrew, I know Empowering Communities is in safe hands as it begins its own organisational life cycle. I would like to wish Laura O’Dowd, Director of Empowering Communities, and Sheenagh McNally, its first Development Officer, every success. As I mentioned at the launch itself, the new Company will no doubt take time to find its feet to grow and develop organically, but with these two extremely passionate people at the helm, I have no doubt Empowering Communities will be every bit as successful as Supporting Communities.
Thanks must also be extended to the Board of Supporting Communities for supporting me and our senior management team in backing this brave and ambitious decision for Supporting Communities going forward. There are many opportunities that lie ahead for both Supporting Communities and Empowering Communities, and I for one, am certainly looking forward to the future and ensuring the long-term sustainability of both companies.