Richard Rogers from the Alpha Programme; Maureen Edwards, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust Finance Director and Gerry Ford, Advantage Foundation reveal plans to transform 12 acres into a ’Ravine Eco Pod’ with £49, 940 from the Alpha Programme.

THE Advantage Foundation has revealed exciting plans to develop a multi- purpose ‘Eco Pod’, as part of their Ravine project.

This project, which will transform 12 acres of land in South Belfast, aims to help young people with mental health problems as well as provide an education and recreation space for local schools and the wider community.

Through Alpha funding, the Advantage Foundation will develop an ‘Eco Pod’, to provide a focal point for visitors and a venue for training. Environmental regeneration of the site will  include nature trails, a polytunnel and growing space, a camping area, a wildflower meadow and educational ‘conservation stations’.

The ‘Ravine’ project uses a nature-based social enterprise approach to untap the potential of marginalised young people through training and opportunities such as practical work experience, volunteering, and personal coaching, enhancing wellbeing and increasing confidence and self- esteem.

The Alpha Programme, now in its 10th year distributes funding through the Landfill Communities Fund to a range of community led and biodiversity projects within a 15-mile radius of the landfill site at Mullaghglass on the outskirts of Lisburn. Alpha Resource Management developed the programme in 2008; it is a waste management and green energy company within the Breedon Group.

The Programme offers two awarding schemes, the Main Grants Scheme, which offers up to £50k to successful groups and the Small Grants Scheme, which is designed to support smaller community projects, with between £3k and £10k available.

Niamh-Anne McNally from Alpha Resource Management said:

“Over the last decade we have supported 157 projects with £5.27m investment and these projects have made a positive impact in their local communities. We have seen a real mix of applications this time round with some impressive sport, environmental and community initiatives at the forefront. These organisations are taking responsibility in growing and developing their projects and it is great that our funding can help facilitate this”.

Groundwork NI manages the Alpha Programme with funding awarded on a quarterly basis.

Richard Rogers who oversees the Alpha Programme added:

“This is an exciting and ambitious project, and we are delighted to be able to help it get off the ground. We look forward to seeing the site transformed over the coming months. We would encourage eligible organisations to apply and see what difference they could make to their communities”.

The new ‘Eco Pod’ is based at Knockbracken Health Park. The project will be leasing 12 acres of land from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. They have also secured a further £600k from the Big Lottery to develop the site.

Gerry Ford from the Advantage Foundation said:

“The Alpha Programme funding has provided added capital to the Ravine project allowing it to progress at a faster rate.  As a result the Ravine project will be able to achieve a point of sustainability quicker than anticipated. This in turn will generate more income to reinvest in our training, resulting in the Ravine project being able to offer young people more places, helping them achieve their full potential. 

The Alpha Programme has now joined a strong partnership alongside the Big Lottery Fund and the Belfast Trust. The support from these three combined have allowed a comprehensive and robust project to be put in place. This new partnership and the work we are doing will allow us to reinstate, maintain and conserve this wonderful natural space and its habitats for future generations for years to come.”

Applications for the next round of Alpha Programme funding closes on 27th July 2018.

Anyone considering applying to the Programme is encouraged to contact Groundwork NI at to discuss their application prior to submission.

June 2018 Funding Summary

Small Grants Awards

  • Gleann Amateur Boxing Club – ‘Modernisation of Gleann ABC’, £10,000
  • St Michael’s Amateur Boxing Club – ‘Training Equipment’, £8,190
  • Crumlin United Football Club – ‘United for Crumlin’, £9,950
  • North Down Red Squirrel & Pine Marten Group – ‘Nutkin Ventured, Nutkin Gained’, £7,721
  • St Luke’s Family Centre – ‘A Family Centre for All’, £5,800
  • Stoneyford Orange Lodge – ‘Stoneyford Hub Regeneration Project’, £9,742

Main Grants Awards

  • RSPB – ‘Enhancing the Wet Grassland Habitat at Portmore Lough’, £50,000
  • The Advantage Foundation – ‘Ravine Eco Pod’, £49,940
  • Lurgan Town Football Club – ‘Upgrade Floodlighting’, £49,740
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