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McCausland praises success of innovative rural ‘Eden Village’ social economy project in Ballywalter

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has praised the work of the Belfast based FASA; Forum Against Substance Abuse/Suicide Awareness.
Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Minister, speaking after a visit to this unique regeneration project in the North Down village of Ballywalter, said: “This project will contribute to the reduction of anti-social activities and help alleviate crime, making the area safer and more pleasant for both residents and visitors. I am very impressed by the tremendous difference the completed works have made to this area. It is a clear indication of what can be achieved when resources are combined and delivered in partnership with the local community.

“I am pleased to learn how the people of this community have worked together to make this area a better place for all.”

The project is a rural social economy facility which offers a number of services including eco-therapy/horticulture, crafts, a coffee shop, family support, outdoor pursuit facilities, and community safety initiatives.

The overall aim of the project is to reduce isolation, promote community safety, reduce alcohol and drug related crime, and promote positive mental health and wellbeing in this rural area. These aims are achieved through some practical experiences including employment skills training, tourism, and local economy enhancement.

The project was made possible through fundraising, volunteer effort and donations from local companies. FASA hope to continue to expand the facility through the income generated by the services provided and the continued support of volunteers and the private sector.

Anne Bill, CEO of FASA said: “Every day FASA see many people who are at their lowest ebb, are in crisis or are misusing alcohol or drugs to cope with the everyday situations they find themselves in. This is no less true than in rural areas where there are many barriers for residents to access services, leaving people feeling isolated with nowhere to turn for help or support. FASA have worked with local people and elected representatives to bring the specialist services we deliver across Belfast and North Down into the Peninsula area reaching into communities with services that can provide information, education, intervention, treatment and crisis support services to people of all ages.

“In the development of this project we have worked with private companies who have selflessly contributed time and resource to help realise our ambition. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people from those organisations for their support which still continues as the project develops”

Notes to editors:

  1. Revenue funding of £330,000 per annum through the DSD Neighbourhood Renewal Investment Fund has allowed the organisation to expand its services and manage the development of new initiatives such as Eden Village.
  2. Media enquiries to DSD Information Office on 028 9082 9078. Out of office hours please contact Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.