Its vibrant programmes engage children, teenagers and senior citizens in a neutral environment, challenging assumptions and allowing bridges to be built between people from different backgrounds – still vital in Northern Irish communities. In recent years the Trust has also developed and delivered a range of programmes to address problems of rural isolation, particularly for older people.
And it’s clear how much fun it is. Alisha used to stay at Glebe as a child and now comes back to volunteer: “When I used to come here I was so excited. I always knew I was going to come back and do volunteering. I just loved it here. We never wanted to leave.”
Through its activities Harmony Community Trust also gives children and young people from disadvantaged families a break. “One of the main things that our young people have in common is that they don’t have very much”, explains Julie Gibson, Children’s Programme Worker.
But with a reduction in statutory funding, Glebe House came under threat. Ulster Bank put Harmony Community Trust in touch with Social & Community Capital. We were able to offer a loan with flexible terms, including an interest-free period that is allowing Harmony Community Trust to develop a sustainable business model. This has been of significant benefit to everyone at Glebe House – as Council Member Helen Honeyman explains, “we probably would have gone out of business.