GATHER Programme

To gather always means that people come together with a common purpose. We want to support community groups and organisations by allowing them to bring their people to a safe space where intentional community fosters positive change. Provident Financial have been a key corporate sponsor allowing us to continue this amazing programme.

Now in it’s 3rd year Gather can look back at over 60+ residentials that took place in one of our core hostels. Most of the groups choose either Bushmills or Whitepark Bay hostel as their venue as they allow for loads of outdoor activities.

We are proud that the GATHER programme attracts so many groups with different focuses. With Youth being the most popular category we also were delighted to host groups that concentrate on Women, Homelessness, Family, Refugees, Employability, LGBTQ+, Drama and Dance, Disability, etc.  What unites all groups however is that they are all adversely affected by deprivation and marginalisation in one form or another.

We gather evidence on how much of a difference the residential stay has made to the service users. What we enjoy most is however when organisations tell us the countless positive stories in their own words. It reassures us that this is a programme worth continuing year after year.

East Belfast Mission, Category Refugees, Whitepark Bay, March 2019:“Our group really welcomed the opportunity to get out of the city and into nature. The high point for everyone was going to the seaside. Some of our clients had never been although they have been in Northern Ireland for a while.”

NIACRO, Category Youth, Bushmills, August 2019: “We had our own space away from other residents so that was great to have those private discussions and conversations with our young people. This also meant we didn’t have to worry about the safety of the young people. We had full use of the common room so we organized loads of team-building activities and know that the young people had somewhere to go for ‘down time’. The weather was beautiful so we made good use of the garden too. It’s such a safe and quiet environment. The staff was so helpful and always very courteous. One of the young ones said she wants to run a hostel when she is older.”

Adoption UK, Category Family, Whitepark Bay, May 2019: “It was just great to be in an environment where people just ‘get it’. So often we struggle with our children’s behaviour and feel we have to apologise for it. But here there was an acceptance, understanding and empathy; tips were swapped and supportive friendships made.” “My son described it as one of ‘the times of his life!’.”

The Corona virus pandemic meant that we had to close our hostels and reschedule many residentials that would have taken place during this time. Our close relationships with the organisations ensured that we were able to find a solution for everyone.

The application stage for this programme usually opens in November/December. Please keep an eye on our social media and this website to learn about updates and how you can apply.

East Belfast Mission Refugee Group at Whitepark Bay Beach in 2019

Monkstown Boxing Club stayed at Bushmills in 2019

Artillery Youth Club at Whitepark Beach during a Ghost Walk in 2018

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