Taking Stock and Moving Forward in Newtownards

 Pulling together and sharing the load

Pulling together and sharing the load

Committee members and volunteers from the West Winds Development Association (WWDA) have been learning from the past in order to look to the future with the help of Supporting Communities.

A recent Planning Day, funded by the Housing Executive’s BRIC 2 programme, provided an opportunity for community representatives to take stock of current activities and to have a frank discussion regarding strengths and weaknesses of the Association.  Findings from recent BRIC 2 and SEHSCT community surveys provided a valuable insight into the needs of the local community which helped representatives identify key priorities for WWDA and to develop an action plan. 

Sarah Harkness, Senior Liaison Officer for Supporting Communities explained, “Following the Association’s Annual General Meeting, committee members agreed it was vital to revisit the needs of the local community in order to assess how effectively the Association was in meeting those needs. I was delighted to be asked by WWDA to facilitate a Planning Day for them incorporating the work of the Environmental Group, The Youth Club, The Shack, Women’s Health Group and the Women’s Group.“  

“The event was one of the most beneficial I have attended during my time with WWDA”, said Margaret Cameron, Treasurer for WWDA. "Some of the volunteers attending had never been involved in a similar event and due to the large cross section of ages from 21 to 72, there was a wide range of experience and knowledge.  I am pleased to say every person in the room had the opportunity to express their point of view and to participate in the discussion.”

The group looked at what they had achieved in the past, what they hoped to achieve in the future, and most importantly, how all volunteers could support one another to achieve the overall objective; to make life as a whole better for the residents of West Winds.  They looked at how projects could be developed further and how people from different groups could share experiences and interests with others, particularly intergenerational opportunities.  The group also identified the need to continue partnerships with the other voluntary/community and statutory agencies which have worked so well over the past number of years. 

Margaret went on to say, “It was encouraging to realise that everyone, even though they were involved in different projects, agreed that the best way forward for each of us was to be continually communicating what is happening in the various groups and for everyone to pull together and share the load by helping others in whatever way we can.”

Those present agreed that the day was very worthwhile and it's something that should be done on a regular basis to keep the doors of communication open.

Sarah Harkness concluded, “I am delighted to see first-hand the positive impact made by the WWDA within their local community and look forward to working alongside the group as they deliver their action plan. I’d also like to offer special thanks to Jackie Robinson (SEHSCT) for her support throughout the planning day.”