Kilcooley Women’s Centre opens new ‘Virtual College’

a group of men and women stand in front of Kilcooley Women's Centre
Pictured from left is Evan Fleming, Project Manager at Kilcooley Women’s Centre, Lisa Mussen, Project Support Officer for Kilcooley Women’s Centre and Alison Blayney BEM, Chief Executive of Kilcooley Women’s Centre. Also pictured is the Housing Executive’s Good Relations Officer for Ards and North Down, Gus Moore.

Housing Executive funding has helped develop a new Virtual College for Kilcooley Women’s Centre.

A Community Grant of £5,000 was allocated to enable the group to open its new Interactive online community-training platform. 

Local residents can now digitally enrol, while gaining online accreditations and supporting the organisation’s’ ‘blended learning’ programmes.

It will also enable virtual classrooms to take place for rurally based students who cannot easily access a class in Bangor.

Alison Blayney BEM, Chief Executive Officer of Kilcooley Women’s Centre, said the Virtual College would help massively towards local people achieving online accreditations.

She added; “This grant from the Housing Executive has been instrumental in Kilcooley Women’s Centre realising their digital transformation strategy which will enable online, blended and distance learning for residents. 

“The grant enabled us to create the Virtual College system, which is an online learning portal which not only enables people to engage in programmes, soft skills activities, networking opportunities and formal courses during lockdown periods.      

“It will also widen participation through digital engagement for years to come as we emerge from COVID-19. 

“This has helped transform an organisation formed in 1995 to move into the digital age – we support over 500 disadvantaged women and 100 pre-school children on a weekly basis.”         

Housing Executive tenants will also be able to avail of more online opportunities through this project – accessing a bespoke website to enable them to find out what is on offer at the Virtual College.

It will also help navigate any prolonged lockdown periods, and reach out to those vulnerable people who do not feel safe or secure engaging in face-to-face activity due to their vulnerable health status.

Owen Brady, the Housing Executive’s Ards and North Down Manager, said the recent funding allocation will help to create many opportunities for tenants through the Virtual College.

He added; “We have had a good working relationship with Alison and Kilcooley Women’s Centre over the years, and we were delighted to get behind them and help fund the new Virtual College.

“Housing Executive tenants can now avail of a number of online opportunities through this system - which they may not have been able to access before.

“It is wonderful that rural residents – such as those living in Portaferry can also now access what the virtual college has to offer, without having to make a long journey.  I am delighted to see the hard work that has gone on in order to bring the Virtual College to fruition.”

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