Steps to Funding has been making a real difference to the lives of older people in the Tyrone area. The project helps groups to access funding to support local events and activities.

After attending a Steps to Funding workshop, Robert West, Vice Chair of Gillygooley 2nd Youth (a rural community group for people aged 50+) applied for and has received several funding awards. He believes that the workshops have increased the success of his applications, and provide invaluable support for an often challenging funding process.

‘Gillygooley 2nd Youth organises social events for people over 50 including day trips and walking clubs. We provide opportunities for people to socialise with their neighbours and friends. When my wife and I moved here from Birmingham four years ago we joined the walking club within the first twelve months. Being a part of Gillygooley 2nd Youth has been really beneficial to us on a personal level - it’s helped us to be accepted, make friends and settle in to a new community. That’s why ensuring that the group receives funding for overheads and daily activities is so important - a group like ours can really help to combat rural isolation and loneliness.

‘When I became Vice Chair of our group, I knew I needed additional training to source funding. I have a background in engineering, and to be honest paperwork and applications can be tricky to navigate. The Steps to Funding workshop was very useful. It described the application process in plain English and explained a lot of previously impenetrable jargon! Most importantly, it boosted my confidence and encouraged me speak to people directly. It helps to talk through available funding opportunities to find out if they are the right fit for our group.

‘I’d recommend attending a Steps to Funding workshop because of the positive outcomes I have seen in our funding applications. It’s also a good opportunity to network, develop friendships and share knowledge. I’ve built good relationships with other local group members - we often meet at the same events going on in the area.

EJ Havlin, Age NI Development Manager responsible for the Steps to Funding project added, ‘What I love about my role is seeing the difference that a workshop can make to people’s confidence. Too often smaller groups don’t know about the financial support that’s available or how to access it. Steps to Funding workshops provide information and support and remove some of the confusion. It’s a privilege to hear positive feedback from people like Robert who have seen the positive impact of the training on their activities.’