Marking the fifth anniversary of The Gallaher Trust, Operations Director, Greg McKinley cited the “real difference” that the Trust has made to the people of Ballymena as one of his standout memories, amongst many more.
For this blog post, we sat down with Greg and asked him about some of the Trust’s most memorable achievements over the last five years. Here’s what he had to say…
Establishing the Board of Trustees
The Trust hosted its first Board meeting in October 2016 with just four Trustees, which expanded to seven by July 2017. Our Board of Trustees is made up of a team of experienced individuals that are totally committed to ensuring that the Trust meets its objectives of supporting job creation, skills development and assisting disadvantaged adults.
Over the years we have seen a few changes to personnel, but the same spirit continues. It’s a pleasure to work alongside such a great team of people.
Supporting the Trust’s First Projects
The Trust’s first two delivery partner projects were selected in 2018, which was a huge moment for us. An investment of £338,000, over three years, was committed to Ballymena Business Centre and Ulster Supported Employment Ltd (USEL), to support two projects that would create jobs, develop skills and assist disadvantaged adults.
From those somewhat humble beginnings, the Trust has now committed £1.9 million towards supporting 17 projects across 12 delivery partners. We’re so proud of our delivery partners who have shown their expertise, professionalism and resilience, especially against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launching Training Academies
Focusing our efforts on the Ballymena community enabled us to identify a recruitment issue within the hospitality and manufacturing sectors. To help mitigate these challenges, the Northern Ireland Hospitality School and the Manufacturing Academy were launched in 2021.
Through the Northern Ireland Hospitality School, students will get the chance to complete industry recognised qualifications in bar tending while gaining on the job experience and guaranteed employment with one of three local hotels – the Tullyglass House Hotel, Adair Arms or the Galgorm Golf Resort and Spa. Already, 21 trainees have successfully graduated and secured full-time employment.
A Chef Academy was also recently launched which will see six chefs availing of training over the next 12 months.
In terms of the Manufacturing Academy, this project is a collaboration between the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Manufacturing Task Force and Northern Regional College, where students will be given the skills necessary for a successful career in the sector. They will also be guaranteed an interview with local employers upon completion. Two students have already settled into their new roles with Ballymena based manufacturing companies.
Making a Real Difference
The Gallaher Trust is quite unique in that it focuses solely on the wider Ballymena area. After five years, we have learnt how best to focus our efforts to find the best delivery partners and projects. It’s great to see the real difference we are making within the local community – to date 180 jobs have been created, 830 skills development opportunities and 804 disadvantaged adults have received support.
The Trust plans to bolster the Ballymena community on a long-term basis – for at least the next 15 years, so there is much more to come. Watch this space!
To find out more about the work of the Trust visit: www.thegallahertrust.org.