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Stepping Stones NI Celebrates 20 Years Transforming Lives

April 2018 - The Ards Advertiser

Stepping Stones NI Celebrating Twenty Years Transforming Lives

Leading charity, Stepping Stones NI, celebrates twenty years supporting people with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, a learning difficulty and learning disability to gain meaningful training and employment.

The charity opened its doors in 1998 with the support of parents, carers, business people and the health trust. Twenty years on it has grown significantly with a range of support services and social enterprises.

Their social enterprise, The Gatelodge Café, on Church Street in Newtownards serves as a realistic training platform for people with a learning disability with some clients also employed at the café. An employment service operates from Brewery Court in the town providing tailored support to people who experience a range of learning difficulties and barriers to employment.

Ciara Brennan, Marketing Manager for the charity comments on the twenty year milestone “Our clients are the heartbeat of our organisation. Every day we see progress, accomplishment, self-belief and independence gained. We see everyone’s potential and our team are extremely passionate about meeting our client’s needs so that they can strive forward.  We know that with the right support our clients can find employment and stay in employment”.

Clients are supported by the charity to gain new skills, confidence, work experience and paid employment.  Trainee Jodie, pictured above with Stepping Stones NI trainer Jacqueline McConville has been supported by the service to develop new skills in catering and hospitality and says “I love the Gatelodge, I have learned so much, my confidence has grown and I have been supported to achieve a Level 1 and Level 2 NVQ in Food and Beverage Service”.

To celebrate twenty years of  Stepping Stones NI are offering customers at The Gatelodge Café a tea and homemade scone for £2 for the month of April by quoting ‘20’ at the time of order.

Stepping Stones NI is part funded though the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy.  If you know someone who could benefit from support to develop new skills, qualifications or employment contact Claire Humphreys on or call 028 92 666404.


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