Seeing is Believing
On 4th February 2010, the Club enjoyed a very successful “Seeing is Believing” visit to a couple of community projects in East Belfast.
The programme was arranged by Business in the Community to illustrate the range of volunteering opportunities available in support of community groups in disadvantaged areas of East Belfast and beyond. The visit reflected the wish of members of the Club to explore volunteering and outreach opportunities to help members fulfil Rotary’s mission to encourage and foster the Ideal of Service.
The visit programme included Elmgrove Primary School, where members learned form the schools's Headmaster, David Hutchinson, about their successful “Time to Read” scheme where volunteers work on a one to one basis to help children read and gain confidence in the process.
The visit to the Walkway Community Association, Holywood Arches, gave members an opportunity to learn about a range of community programmes undertaken by this largely volunteer group. We found particularly interesting the Association’s work with young people engaging in anti-social behaviour, which is credited with reducing such behaviour by some 30%. The PSNI sees the Association’s work as a model for community groups elsewhere.
The Association required help with various accountancy, planning and fund-raising activities and following this visit the Club has provided support to the Association in the form of a new photocopier and help with an application to the Big Lottery for funding for a building survey and associated fabric improvements. The Association was also one of the beneficiaries of the Thank You for Life/Tree of Hope fundraising project at Christmas 2010.
Both organisations illustrated the important volunteering role that Rotary members could play in the community, whether by reading with disadvantaged young children, or by contributing professional skills (and not just money) to community groups working in areas of high social need.
The Club will be exploring how best we could mobilise our members to provide support to such organisations, perhaps in conjunction with other Rotary Clubs in the Belfast area and we will shortly be launching a flagship project to celebrate the Club's Centennial Year.