New Co-operative Launches in Ballykelly

AN innovative community-based co-operative was officially opened in Ballykelly this week.
(By Jennifer Michael) 

CERES Europe Co-operative was launched on Tuesday January 29 at 3 Shackleton Drive, Ballykelly and was attended by local political leaders, community groups, businesses and representatives from the Department for Employment and Learning.

Set up by its founder member North West Lifelong Learning Ltd, It has been sponsored and mentored by the Co-operative UK movement and is unique in its setup of a centralised group of training companies within one entity (co-operative group) in the North West.  Whilst there are local companies, there is also a Microsoft member from Co Donegal and two companies from further afield who have trained abroad in Europe and Dubai, for example.

This unique and forward thinking grouping has come together to provide a wide ranging collective which shares resources that opens up wider training opportunities.

The EU link is to five other European countries which include Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Latvia and Bulgaria where NWLLA Ltd is the UK representative, all participating in a Leonardo Mobility project to identify the skills required for a successful social entrepreneur.  Ceres Co-operative will host representatives from these countries in Ballykelly this year in August 2013, showing them around the facilities and businesses within the Borough of Limavady as well as participating in some of the City of Culture events.

Co-operative members & core area of expertise:

1. North West Lifelong Learning Ltd (NVQ qualifications, exam delivery, employability skills)

2. Coastal Core Training (Lifesaving, adult & childcare compliance training)

3. Benmore Training Academy (Management, Customer Care, Leadership, HR – Ballyclare)

4. Specific Training (PTLLS, Security Guarding, Stewarding)

5. SalesExcellence (Sales skill training)

6. IISAT (NI) Ltd (specialising in domestic & Commercial construction & training courses)

7. Cosgrove IT (Co Donegal, Cloud & web storage solutions, CCTV & Learner Management Systems)

NWLLA also maintains a fully complaint and registered open exam centre where the following academic, work based and ICT exams can be taken.  Presently this is the only exam centre outside Belfast or Dublin which administers exams centrally for Prometric, Pearson Vue and Microsoft.

CERES Co-operative is also in the initial stages of planning two strategies to enhance employability based on our research with local employers, recruiting agencies and with those seeking work.

Mary Hegarty attended Tuesday launch on behalf of the Department for Employment and Learning.

She said: “Ceres Europe Co-operative Ltd is an example of an Innovative community based organisations which our Department for employment and learning strongly encourages on the ground.

“Co-operatives have the core aim of building a better world and Ceres is an excellent example of a Co-operative group concerned with improving the community and the opportunities and lives of those individuals living within it.

“The main objective of the Ceres group is training, education & enterprise and we within the department for employment and learning recognise the need to upskill and inspire individuals. Indeed our departments aim is to prepare people for work and support our economy.”

‘We hope to empower local people to upskill for potential DARD jobs coming to the area’

ONE of NWLLA’s current goals is to prepare local people for potential jobs coming to Ballykelly when the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) relocate their headquarters in the village in 2015.

Peter Boyle explained: “All being well, DARD are relocating from Dundonald House to Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly in three years. That means local residents have three years to prepare themselves for the jobs that will come with DARD’s move. With us being a training organisation on site, we can empower local people to prepare for and reach that goal.

“We are working with residents of the estate to establish a demographic of local people, their needs and wants. Being from a community background, we are working with residents to setup a new community association with governance training etc. We are also trying to establish a new community center for the community association to operate out of.

As an organisation we know we can not meet the needs and wants of everyone and so we developed a co-operative model and have setup the Ceres Group Europe. We also have setup a mini enterprise hub with 3 start up training businesses + ourselves on site who are also members of the Ceres Co-operative.

Northwest Lifelong Learning, the founder member of Ceres Europe Co-op, will be 10 years old in March 2013.  If I think “outside the box” for a moment, I want to give the people involved in it, along with the community, a voice. I want them to be able to standup and say ‘with a little hard work look at what we can do’. In the last 10 years we have grown a lot and we look forward to seeing what we can achieve by working together.”

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About Peter Boyle