Newtownabbey Arts & Cultural Network (NACN)

Newtownabbey & Antrim Cultural Network (NACN) is an alternative youth provider in Newtownabbey. Using the medium of creative industries, they deliver projects outside the standard and current focus on youth development. Education, community learning and up-skilling help drive their workshops forward and provide the members with a focus on their personal development path as they advance towards qualifications and employment.

Mentor: Mid & East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP)

NACN applied to Elevate as the Network saw the programme as a great opportunity to gain support to help them develop an App which will provide information to people in the area on health and wellbeing support and advice services. While the App is being developed primarily for the young people, it will also be used to reach older people that need support in the local and surrounding community. The App will help address the health and inequality issues such as healthy lifestyle, mental health and bullying.

Community development practice enabled the group to focus on collective action and collaborative working to address health issues and inequalities for young people in the Rathcoole Area. The basis of the Elevate project was to help the group organise focus groups and gather information from the attendees, then analyse this information to help create the App. The Network’s young volunteers will engage with the App developer and attend development sessions.


Through mentoring support from MEAPP, the group was able to gain information and guidance on different approaches for using community development in a community setting. One of these allowed them to plan work with a local Pharmacist and connect with a GP as they want to build a dedicated GP response tool into the App.

The one-to-one meetings also allowed the young people to ask questions regarding how to build their capacity. The mentor, Sarah from MEAAP, had vast experience in community development and the young people valued her expertise.

The project has provided a base platform for the topic of health to reach the young people. They looked at how Diabetes is higher in socially deprived areas and realised that cheap processed food is not congruent with a healthy lifestyle. For many of the young people on the project, the App was like a magnet to them – these ‘invisibles’ normally sit at home and do not engage in the standard youth provision that is currently provided. They now know they have a safe space to find credible information and support.

One member of staff attended the Elevate training on Health Inequalities and Community Development. By sharing the learning from the training, the young people discovered that having the opportunity to explore mental health in a community setting helped them feel more comfortable to talk and open up to each other, dismantling the barriers that normally prevented them from being vocal.

"The guidance and advice from the programme were certainly fantastic and we felt supported throughout."

Dee Crooks, Project Manager

"The App workshops have been great as I got to meet Joanne over Zoom in Ibiza. She is a real inspiration because she grew up in Rathcoole and is now living in Spain… plus is worth a fortune. She is a great example of what we can achieve."

Young participant