New Director For Harmony Community Trust

The Harmony Community Trust appoints new Director.

Andrew McCracken is the recently appointed director to lead the charity Harmony Community Trust forward into its next period of development.

Established in 1975 as the Troubles unfolded, its aim was to promote and build positive relationships and social inclusion working with communities that were amongst the most hard hit.

Glebe House is the Trust’s residential and activity centre set within a sixteen acre site at Kilclief in County Down. From this site tucked away inland close to the shores of Kilclief beach within walking distance, the facility delivers community relations, wellbeing and creative programmes on a year round basis for young and elderly people.

Andrew McCracken, the new director of Harmony Community TRust based at Glebe House.

Andrew’s professional background is as a manager and volunteer with cross-community charities working with young people and adults across Northern Ireland for over the last 30 years.

Seamus Camplisson, Chairman of the charity’s Council of Management said: “We are delighted to have Andrew leading the staff team and working at Glebe House and to support the charity as it enters into a new phase of growth and development.

“His background in community relations work, social enterprise, fundraising and management will allow us to build for the future and to assist the charity, its Trustees, staff team and volunteers to build on the great work already underway with young people and through our older people’s programmes.

“Andrew was appointed in the spring and has already made his mark on the work of the charity.”

Andrew McCracken said: “I was delighted to be appointed as Director and look forward to building the opportunities for people to enjoy and be engaged in our existing and developing programmes. Early in my career I worked as a volunteer in a similar cross community children’s charity and it was my foundation for a career supporting people and charities to grow. So really, it is like coming home.

“Here at Glebe House, our almost unique potential is that we have such a great residential centre in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. My goal is to place Glebe House back on the map after the hard impact on programmes during the Covid-19 pandemic and to return our 16 acres of land and residential centre to full use for the wider the community.

“As well as building on our existing youth and adult programmes, we will soon be opening Seedbed, a volunteer driven community gardening project.”

Andrew added: “Also for the next few months we will be providing a safe home to a family who were forced to leave behind their life in the Ukraine, offering support through our programmes to a number of other refugee families who are coming to live locally to help them integrate into community life.

“It is reminiscent of the 1970s here in Northern Ireland when we saw people fleeing from violence from their homes. There is an opportunity to provide a relief programme now to help some of those families who are affected by the war in Ukrain.

“It is great to see these developments happen and the team is excited to respond to food poverty and the crisis in the Ukraine in such practical ways.

Andrew McCracken, the new director of Harmony Community Trust, looks over the three Glebe House donkeys on the 16-acre estate.

“Anyone who wishes to get involved in the work of Harmony Community Trust or to make use of our facilities and programmes can contact Andrew or the rest of the staff team on 02844 881374.

“We have come a long way in terms of providing respite and a place of safety for many people since the early days of 1975 when we were supported by the Rotary CLub and the International Voluntary Service.

“Sadly we are still in political conflict and tensions exist, but the level of violence is much reduced. There are opportunities now to work more on a cross-community basis.

“There has been a lot of community isolation especially as a result of Covid-19 and there is work to be done across the generations with young and older people,” said Andrew.

As Andrew and I sat in the courtyard at a table in the sun and chatted, a group of children were engaged close by with their mentors. The excited sounds of laughter, engagement, and happiness filled the air. They felt safe and relaxed in their environment surrounded by trees and tranquility at Glebe House, a place that has provided support for many thousands of people since the 70s.