FLEX work alongside OCN to offer grants to disadvantaged learners

15, Sep 2022Featured


OCN NI grants scheme distributes between £500 and £3,000 to 34 NI education/training providers

In the first grants scheme of its kind in Northern Ireland, the Open College Network NI (OCN NI) has awarded £82K to thirty-four education, voluntary and charitable training providers throughout the province.

FLEX Language Services received a Centre Learning Grant in the amount of £3000 to help train individuals to interpret for ethnic minority communities within Northern Ireland.

This is the first learner funding scheme of its kind launched in Northern Ireland by an awarding organisation, explained Martin Flynn, CEO, OCN NI.

Martin said: “The Centre Learning Grants Programme was created by OCN NI to help fulfil our charitable function with particular emphasis being given to help those who may be especially disadvantaged and would not otherwise have had the opportunities to engage in education.

“Originally, we planned to award £70K but the number of the entries and quality of the submissions resulted in the OCN NI board of trustees increasing the fund to £82K.  We awarded grants of between £500 and £3,000 to over thirty projects or activities that advance the mission and vision of OCN NI.”

Laura Slevin, Manager of FLEX Language Services explained, “FLEX get several requests monthly from individuals who wish to undertake our Level 4 Community Interpreting qualification but do not have the means to fund it. We are the only organisation in NI who offer this Level 4 training as a qualification and so our training is in very high demand. Interpreting is a vital requirement in Northern Ireland to allow ethnic minorities to access the same services as English speakers. Doing this course with FLEX allows individuals the opportunity to access paid interpreting work and employment.

Having this qualification allows the individual to register with FLEX as a freelance interpreter and use their skills to build a career in interpreting. We are delighted to now be in the position to offer funded places through this programme.”

Paul Donaghy Chair of OCN NI, said: “As part of our organisations Corporate & Social Responsibility commitments we are delighted to be in a position to ‘give back’ to learners and training providers through the development of the Grants Programme in line with the stated aims of our charitable function, ensuring the advancement of education for public benefit. This is a first for OCN NI and I am confident the grants will help engage, enrich and equip learners for life.”

OCN NI is Northern Ireland’s leading Awarding Body, working with Further Education Colleges, Schools, Training Organisations, Third Sector Organisations, Health Trusts, Prisons and other education and training organisations.



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