Banbridge Arthritis Care is one of many groups across Northern Ireland which is currently benefiting from Steps to Funding, an Age NI project funded by Comic Relief.

The project helps local groups to access much needed funding to support their events and activities.

Shirley Quinn is Chairperson of Banbridge Arthritis Care which has just celebrated its 25 year anniversary. ‘I am very privileged to have worked with the organisation for the last 25 years. It provides invaluable support for our 73 members who are living with arthritis.

‘Funding is just as important an issue now as it was when I first started working with Banbridge Arthritis Care. Without funding we just wouldn’t be in a position to offer people the range of services that we do such as helping our members to get out and about in the local area, and providing discounted support aids.

‘When I heard about the Steps to Funding workshops I was keen to get involved. I have a strong background in the funding application process but there is always more to learn. I found that the workshops were pitched well and catered for people of all levels, from those just starting out on the application process right through to more experienced fundraisers. Since attending the last workshop, we have benefited from a number of different funding sources. Another very positive by-product of the Steps to Funding project has been the opportunity to network and meet other people and groups who are involved in the voluntary sector. It’s an incredibly worthwhile project.’

Age NI’s Development Manager responsible for the Steps to Funding project said:

'We have a wide range of groups attending our workshops, and as Shirley says, they can really vary in terms of experience. We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is useful and relevant, irrespective of your background. We have received positive feedback from many groups like Banbridge Arthritis Care about the impact of the workshops on their applications. We aim to help local groups help themselves by increasing not just their understanding, but their confidence and networking opportunities too.'