Prestigious recognition for Newtownabbey community groups

Three community organisations from across Antrim and Newtownabbey were celebrating at the weekend after being recognised at the Pride of Place community awards in Dublin.

‘A Safe Space to be Me’ won the Community Wellbeing Initiative category on the 20th anniversary of the competition which was held on Saturday.

A ‘Safe Space to be Me’ was formed in March 2016 to help people develop their emotional wellbeing.

It grew from a very small grassroots community group based in Antrim to one that now has two main bases in Crumlin and Antrim and five satellite offices across the Northern Trust locality.

Deputy Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Leah Smyth and her partner Gary Kirkpatrick, Liz Walker (Whiteabbey), Cllr Julie Gilmour, Seamus Kelly (Bawnmore), Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ald Stephen Ross, Cllr Paula Bradley (Mayoress), Carolyn Tailford (A Safe Space), Darrin Walker (Whiteabbey), Claire Magee (Bawnmore) and Siobhain Murphy (A Safe Space).

The group was also awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services in 2021, the highest award given to voluntary organisations.

The group hosts a wide range of activities to enrich the lives of the local residents including a community food bank and The Nurture Cafe to tackle food poverty and a ‘Good Morning’ project to challenge loneliness.

For young people the group offer ‘Hideout Youth Zone’ and ‘Stay and Play’ baby and toddler group. The project also offers free workshops including Moo Music for Children, ASD Carer Support Group and Team Group, Crochet and Knitting Friendship Club, Handy Homemaking and a Photography Class.

Judges praised the project for its inclusivity and impact. stating: “The work of this group is at the heart of the community - accessible to all. It is community participation with a holistic approach.”

Whiteabbey Village Business Association was nominated by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council in the Urban Neighbourhoods/Villages category and Bawnmore and District Residents’ Association was nominated by the local authority in the Housing Estates category.

Both of these projects were runners up in their category.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ald Stephen Ross said: “I am delighted to congratulate ‘A Safe Space to be Me’ on their well-deserved winning success and both Whiteabbey Village Business Association and Bawnmore and District Residents’ Association for their very worthy runner up positions.

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“Awards like these may inspire our other local community groups to strive for similar success. This recognition is a true testament to the selfless dedication and commitment these groups express to enrich their local communities.”