Moving On Up, a day opportunities centre for young people and adults with mild to moderate learning difficulties has relocated into new, purpose-built premises in Limavady following an almost £300,000 investment brokered by Mark Johnston and funded by Ulster Bank, creating two full-time equivalent jobs.
Moving On Up! was established in 2014 by Angela McDonald in response to a growing need in the area for a service for young adults with Special Educational Needs (SEN) when they finished mainstream education. It started out with just one student, but the unique proposition of Moving On Up! quickly attracted attention from the wider Limavady community.
“We’re passionate about providing our students with the everyday experiences you or I have, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need for independent living,” Angela says. “As our spaces began to fill up, we realised that to create the best possible environment for the students we needed to start from the ground up. “We acquired the plot and secured the planning permission for its development. We were fortunate also to have a team in Mark Johnston, who provided us with expert financial guidance, and Rhonda at Ulster Bank, who showed real passion for our work, to make it a reality.”
With a funding package, Moving On Up! invested in the development of a new, purpose-built unit with modern facilities. Situated on a four-acre plot, it also offers safer and more secure outdoor learning spaces. “We have 17 students with us now and our new premises offers room for future expansion,” Angela adds.
Rhonda McClelland, Business Development Manager at Ulster Bank, says Moving On Up! provides a valuable service to the local community. “Angela and her team take a holistic approach to their work, catering for both the students and families in their care. It’s a valuable service that delivers many benefits to the wider community and one that we at Ulster Bank are very pleased to support with this investment. The new premises will provide Moving On Up! with the facilities it needs today and the capacity to expand on its proposition in the future.”
Angela, whose background is in community development and social inclusion, says the aim of Moving On Up! is to provide adults from within the learning disability sector with opportunities for social inclusion and to develop independent living skills in a safe and structured environment. “Ours is a day opportunities centre focused on social inclusion and cohesion, nurturing confidence and independence by assisting our students to develop normal life skills such as money management, shopping and cooking.” Moving On Up! provides a training and personal development day service to young people and adults with a learning disability. It also offers training, support advice and advocacy to parents, family members and carers.
Londonderry Chamber member Johnston Financial Solutions help small and medium-size businesses access commercial finance which has been particularly impactful for business recovery and growth post pandemic.