Two north Belfast social enterprises are supporting women getting back into employment, thanks to funding from the Housing Executive.

Wee Chicks, who run an onsite crèche for mothers attending courses at WOMEN’STEC on Chichester Avenue, will use £10,000 from the Housing Executive’s Social Housing Enterprise scheme to employ a new staff member.

WOMEN’STEC was also awarded £1,000 from the same scheme to run a furniture-making course.

Kelly Molloy, Director of Wee Chicks is delighted with the investment award.

She said: “Since 2017, Wee Chicks has worked in partnership with WOMEN’STEC and this funding ensures we can develop our childcare services, which is great news for mums as well as the volunteers who help run our crèche.

“Women’s participation in education and training is often hampered by a lack of childcare provision and this can lead to loneliness and isolation, particularly for lone parents. Our service is important because it allows mothers to access trades and construction courses at WOMEN’STEC, leading to paid employment. Another benefit is that our volunteers gain valuable experience as they work towards their childcare qualifications.”

Kelly added: “We aim to expand our services and provide affordable childcare and after-schools care, as well as a mobile crèche service for community groups. We want to thank the Housing Executive for helping support our plans.”

Wee Chicks and WOMEN’STEC are among a number of Belfast-based projects and organisations benefitting from the latest round of Social Housing Enterprise awards, with a total of £170,000 distributed city-wide.

This funding helps the development of a range of not-for-profit social enterprise initiatives including cafés, arts and crafts workshops, sports facilities and furniture upcycling initiatives whose profits are re-invested in their projects.

Lynn Carvill, Chief Executive of WOMEN’STEC said: “Our students can fully immerse themselves in their courses while their children are looked after in a safe and secure onsite crèche. We’ve also benefited from Housing Executive support and we will be developing our furniture making and craft project with their funding.”

Connor Smith from the Housing Executive’s Social Housing Enterprise team said: “It is very encouraging to see funding from the Housing Executive’s Social Enterprise programme making a real difference to social enterprises like Wee Chicks and WOMEN’STEC.

“Investment like this can help individuals and groups living or working in Housing Executive areas create employment, support learning and development and deliver much-needed services, creating self-sustaining, vibrant neighbourhoods.”

For more information about the Housing Executive please visit: www.nihe.gov.uk