Creggan Preschool and Training Trust received £9,955 from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme to deliver the educational and health focused programmes to the people living in the Creggan area. It is one of 15 groups in the Derry/Londonderry and Strabane area awarded a total of £135,336 from Awards for All. They are among 91 groups across Northern Ireland who are sharing in a total grants windfall of £769,369 (See map of awards and download the full list here).
When Calcast car parts company closed its doors just before Christmas in 2008, nearly 100 people in Derry/Londonderry lost their jobs. Daniel Callaghan (46) was one of them. He had worked at the company for 14 years as a process operator and had three children to support so the blow was hard to take.
“I thought it would just a matter of time before I got another job,” he said. “But it wasn’t that easy. After a year of being unemployed, I started to get depressed and started drinking. It was then that I reached my lowest point.”
It when he was receiving treatment and therapy that he heard that Creggan Pre-School and Training Trust were offering courses to get people back into education and find work. He saw it as a lifeline.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself when I started to get better. It’s important at that time to have something to focus on and keep your mind active,” he said.
Daniel first attended the Trust three years ago. He had no qualifications when he left school so he started with careers workshops and personal development. His tutors encouraged him to continue on with some introductory courses, one of which was in counselling. He liked it more than he expected and went on to study therapeutic counselling at North West Regional College.
“Everyone at the Trust encouraged me on and showed me I could do it. I never thought I would end up as a counsellor but that’s the direction I’m heading in now,” he said.
Daniel has worked for as a volunteer for the past two years at Haven shelter for homeless people, where many of the residents have addiction problems.
“When I’m working with them I think to myself, I could have been there, and I’m relieved that I’m now in the position where I can offer advice and help to people,” he said.
Daniel said he is now proud to sit on the board of Creggan Preschool and Training Trust and help others in the community back to education.
“My confidence is now sky-high and I definitely won’t go back to the place I was in four years ago. Confidence and self esteem are the important things. Now I know how to build up my confidence and that’s by constantly setting and working towards new challenges,” he said.
Creggan Pre-school and Training Trust Centre is a family support centre that provides a range of services to people living in and around the Creggan area of Derry/Londonderry. They are using the £9,955 grant from Awards for All to deliver programmes that focus on healthy lifestyles, IT development, personal development and stress management initiatives, intergenerational projects, parent and toddler activities, healthy eating courses and a digital photography course.