Welcome to the West Armagh Consortium's website. We hope that you will find this both interesting and informative. We would like to take this opportunity to give the reader some background to us.
The West Armagh Consortium (WAC) was constituted in November 2002 as a voluntary amalgamation of local community groups from Armagh City West. As a non-sectarian and politically unaffiliated umbrella organisation, the Consortium welcomes affiliations from all new and existing community and voluntary groups in our catchment area. The groups currently affiliated represent districts within the three electoral wards of Abbey Park, Callanbridge and Downs.
The stated objectives of the West Armagh Consortium are as follows:
To address anti-social and crime related issues through volunteering and local community-led initiatives;
To foster a sense of social inclusion among residents in areas of socioeconomic deprivation; to stimulate and support community training and development;
To provide mediation and local advice services;
To instil community pride through the promotion of cultural and community arts initiatives.
(For a full list of our aims and objectives go to Consortium Constitution )
In particular, we aim to create challenges to encourage young people to contribute to their communities, to gain new skills and knowledge, to become active citizens and to achieve their full potential. Many of our youth in West Armagh come from underachieving, socially marginalised and economically disadvantaged families who have endured thirty years of political conflict. The Consortium seeks to break the cycle of apathy and hopelessness prevalent among the young people of our areas and to take advantage of any and all available opportunities.
Initially the Consortium helped build a community house infrastructure .Through various funding avenues we helped local communities build their professional capabilities by providing informal training. Grant monies allowed us to purchase office materials , computer equipment and recreational materials that helped furnish four community houses in the West Armagh area. Happily local community groups have maintained these houses through a variety of funding opportunities and working with bodies such as The Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership Board. Many of these houses now regularly deliver courses in Basic IT and Digital Photography, First Aid, Environmental Schemes, Internet Awareness, Events Marshalling, Mentoring in Equality and Diversity, Smoking Cessation and youth targeted programmes.
Complementing local Community Houses, the Consortium has leased the first floor of the Cathedral Road Complex to house its offices and a multi-purpose suite for leisure,recreation and conference facilities. The top floor provides groups with an affordable venue for a wide ranging scope of activities. The Consortium make every effort to keep the costs to local groups as low as possible in order to help them deliver their programmes and services. An added incentive here is that monies generated by renting the premises is then used by the Consortium to help our affiliated community group members. There are currently six community groups affiliated to the Consortium. The local community houses in these areas attempt to address the needs of the vulnerable and victimised such as the elderly and single parents in that they disseminate practical advice and support to these two important sections of our community.
After amalgamating several aspects of community activities the West Armagh Community Festival was born. Designed to coincide with what used to be a volatile time of year the event take place in August, on the anniversary of internment and are a reflection of the West Armagh Communities' attempts to replace the traditional activities of that period (rioting, bonfires, etc.) with a more positive and vibrant utilisation of community energies. We are happy to announce that energies are now being redirected into revitalising this festival and restoring it to its former position as a major community and cultural event in the city. The West Armagh Community Festival is only one is a number or annual events that take part in the city and the Consortium is keen to encourage local communities and groups to participate and enjoy. Where possible and practical the Consortium will continue to assist community groups both financially materially to do this.
No community group can sit still. While we work with the various statutory bodies and local government projects and programmes, we are ever conscious of the continuing limits to the life spans of these initiatives. Not to be daunted by this we welcome the new challenges and opportunities that the future will bring .Working with the local community and groups the West Armagh Consortium's aim is to continue to work for the betterment of the community. We believe that this is best achieved in co-operation with all groups , statutory or voluntary that have the will and commitment to advance community orientated programmes and projects. As our motto states, “Ar aghaidh de bharr ochmair” Forward though Co-operation