Chief executive tells of concerns over funding for her organisation

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The chief executive of a leading Northern Ireland youth charity told VIEWdigital today of her concerns over funding for her organisation in the present climate of cutbacks in the community/voluntary sector.

Anne-Marie McClure left, who is in charge of Start360, which provides support services to young people, adult offenders and families, said: “This has impacted upon our organisation. At the moment, we are having to plan in a vacuum.”

Ms McClure spoke to VIEWdigital shortly after addressing the organisation’s annual conference which was held today at the City Life Centre in Northumberland Street, Belfast

“We are still waiting on the outcomes of tender bids that we submitted before last December. We are also waiting to hear from a bid to the European Social Fund.

“We have staff at the moment who are on protected notice.”

“The best case scenario is that we win again the contracts we currently deliver.

“The worst case scenario is that we lose some of those contracts.”

Ms McClure added: “I would like the Health Minister Jim Wells to listen more to the concerns of service users rather than always making decisions only based on pennies and pounds.”

On a lighter note the chief executive spoke about her recent decision to taking up boxing.

“It’s a great way to keep fit. Some aspects of possibly getting into the ring also appeal to me. I hope it brings out the fighter in me,” she said.

She also spoke of her admiration of boxing as a discipline. “It has really helped to build bridges across communities in Northern Ireland.”

One of her highlights has been the whole experience of rebranding (the organisation changed its name from Opportunity Youth to Start360 a year ago).

“It makes you think about where you are going as an organisation”, she said.

Ms McClure formed the organisation 22 years ago but laughed at my suggestion about following David Cameron’s lead in discussing retirement plans.

“My role changes on a regular basis because the environment changes. The needs of our client grouping also change and that is very exciting. I love being in a position where I can make a difference. There is not many people who can say that,” she said.



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