A year ago Rebecca Sergeant was recovering from a stroke and was stuck at home feeling lonely and isolated. Her sister heard about the free ETC programme being run by the Duncairn Gardens organisation and insisted Rebecca join.
Extending Training in the Community (ETC) is run by WOMEN'STEC and is aimed at women aged 16 and over, offering a great opportunity to sample Trades and ICT courses as well as having special sessions with a Life Coach.
Meanwhile Gemma Bennett spotted a sign in the window of WOMEN'STEC and decided it was time to learn how to use a drill.
Both women are now great friends and say that the course has given them direction and opportunities for the future.
"I did word processing level 2 and it was fantastic. But for me, it was as much about getting out of the house again and meeting new people. After I had the stroke in 2004 I just never went out much. I plan to continue to study computers and would really like to eventually get a job working with computers," Rebecca said.
Gemma also did computers as well as mosaics. She plans to go on and do her ECDL , which is a comprehensive computer course. "I found the life coaching portion of the programme really beneficial. As part of this programme you get four coaching session and she really builds your confidence up. I went swimming for the first time in years after a session - it's something I just didn't do any more. She's helped me decide to go back to college and do Foundation in Art and Design. I feel that I can do anything that I put my mind to now," she said.
Rebecca and Gemma were part of the first group to go through this programme but WOMEN'STEC is looking for its next 100 recruits.
The group will run a series of courses on internet access, digital devices, computer maintenance and many other short courses aimed at building skills in not only using computers but also how to fix them. In addition to these courses each woman will gain certificates in First Aid, Manual Handling and a range of one day workshops that are tailored to each groups' needs.
The course - which is free - requires a commitment of 2.5 days per week for a minimum of 10 weeks. There is a travel allowance that can reimburse all journeys made for the course and childcare will be provided where possible.
This project has been supported by European Funding through the European Social Fund and the Department of Employment and Learning.
To apply for a place contact WOMEN'STEC at 028 9074 9810 or send an email with your contact details with the words "ETC Please" in the subject heading to firstname.lastname@example.org.