Tag Archives: AMH New Horizons

AMH New Horizons client and OCN awards finalist, Joanna, is bursting with passion and creativity!

Joanna is taking part in the Working it Out project at AMH New Horizons Ards & North Down The OCN Level 1 Mixed Media art student, Joanna, was recently shortlisted in two categories at the OCN awards. She was Highly Commended in Health and Wellbeing Learner of the Year and also Highly Commended in Third Sector Learner of the Year.

Joanna started at AMH New Horizons shy, easily overwhelmed, and lacking in self-confidence and self-belief. But now, she can lose herself in creativity. She has had to overcome tough and demanding physical, mental and emotional impacts of anxiety. She is a wonderful example of what can be achieved by facing your fears, riding out uncomfortable sensations/feelings, to commit to something important to you. Joanna’s strength throughout the OCN course has been her determination to overcome her anxiety and build a future where she is achieving her dreams.

Pauline Matthew, Skills Coach at AMH New Horizons, described the joy she has gained from helping Joanna throughout the course:

“Joanna’s journey was magical to watch. Seeing her light up, speak passionately and positively to other students about her work – lit the touchpaper to Joanna’s increased self-belief in her ability to not only create great art but to take pride in it, own it and believe in herself.

She has pushed through, forced herself to sit with the uncomfortable, overcoming fears, anxiety and emotions to contribute to the classes and to create meaningful, personal and beautiful art.”

Joanna is continuing to push herself beyond her comfort boundaries, sharing her thoughts, promoting ideas and proposals for better or more creative ways of working.

The “Working it Out” project is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts.

Allotment Growing Success

Launch Tape1

An allotment cultivated and nurtured to become a beautiful plot for the benefit of bereaved people from Lisburn and Belfast has been officially opened by the Mayor of Lisburn Councillor Andrew Ewing.

The Allotment, located at the Little Green Allotments on the Whitemountain Road has been developed by the Beyond Words Friendship Group which was set up last year for bereaved people over the age of 60.  Beyond Words is a partnership project between Cruse Bereavement Care and the Stroke Association which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Reaching Out: Connecting Older People’ programme.

Beyond Words also worked in partnership with AMH New Horizons Derriaghy to help the Friendship Group Allotmenteers in the journey to turn a normal field into a beautiful resource that many people can enjoy today.  AMH Employment Officer Andrea Warwick said;

“AMH New Horizons Derriaghy view the allotment as a positive example of working in partnership.  This has enabled Andrew Dowling (our volunteer) to develop work skills and build confidence while working alongside people from the Friendship Group.”

cruise allotment open day sept 14

Paul Finnegan, Beyond Words Project Manager said;

“Being connected with nature helps people accept the inescapable cycle of life and death and this allotment is a great way for bereaved people to grow plants and vegetables for the future or simply sit back and enjoy the peaceful and tranquil surroundings of the allotments.  The Friendship Group and the Allotment provide the chance for bereaved people to chat freely over a cup of tea with people who have lost their own loved ones and can, therefore, understand something of what we have gone through and are going through.”

The Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Andrew Ewing speaking at the launch of the Beyond Words Friendship Group Allotment, said;

“I am delighted to be at the Little Green Allotments and meet with members of the Friendship Group.  It is commendable that Cruse Bereavement Care can make use of this green space to run a programme for bereaved people over the age of 60.”

The Friendship Group meets on the third Monday of every month between 11am and 1pm.  Members often meet for a coffee or at the allotment in between meetings.  This is a personal choice, with no requirement at all.  To find out more about the group, call Paul Finnegan on 02890 792419

Launch Wheelbarrow


Client Testimonial – Anna in Ards

“My name is Anna and I was born in Krakow, Poland.

In 2006 I was offered employment in a busy clothing warehouse in Newtownards so I decided to move to Northern Ireland.

Unfortunately, after a bad experience in my workplace, I was hospitalised and, with no family here and English as a second language, life for me was not good and I was feeling lonely and isolated.







I was referred to AMH New Horizons in 2010 and since then I have engaged in all sorts of courses, completing the following:

  • ECDL
  • CCEA Floristry Level 1,2 & 3
  • CCEA Window Display & VM Level 2
  • CCEA Textiles Level 1
  • NVQ Level 2 Retail Skills
  • Cook It
  • OCN Employment Skills & CV Building

Outside New Horizons I have completed:

  • City & Guilds level 2 Diploma in Floristry, CAFRE, Antrim
  • City & Guilds English Level 2 Certificate in ESOL, SERC, Bangor

My favourite course was floristry. Although I had never done it before I found it relaxing and therapeutic. During my courses I developed a passion and interest in flowers. My tutor Linda told me that I had a natural creative flair and that I would be given the opportunity to complete a Level 3.

At this time I was the first person to complete a Level 3, so it was challenging and it meant working on my own. As part of this course I had to design a floral arrangement for an exhibition at Ards Town Hall, which was being opened by the Mayor.

The title of my arrangement was: “New beginning… the other side of the rainbow.”

This has a very special meaning to me. The rainbow represents New Horizons. Each flower symbolises a range of courses such as floristry, tiffany glass, art, IT, retail, catering etc. The rainbow is the footpath which all of us are walking on, during our recovery.

“The other side of the rainbow,” refers to the time when we leave New Horizons – the new beginning for us all.

I completed my Level 3 and the CCEA moderator commented that my work was of such a high standard, that I should consider continuing floristry to a higher level. So I did and went to CAFRE in Antrim to complete a 2 year Diploma in floristry. In June 2014 I received my Diploma with Distinction.

It was very hard work and involved a lot of travelling not only to college but my placement at Charlotte’s Web in Newcastle.

Without the on-going support from New Horizons during this time it would have been very difficult for me to complete this course. I was also completing an NVQ in Retail Skills and a Window Display & Visual Merchandising Course in New Horizons at the same time.

Both these courses helped me learn basic skills such as dealing with customers and creating displays which were very beneficial in giving me added knowledge for my diploma course and were also very useful in reality, as I have created a window displays for different occasions in my placement which were very much appreciated by the owner, Diane and admired by customers.

I will be very sad to leave New Horizons. During my 4 years here I have learnt so many new skills, been given opportunities I would never have had, met some good friends, my confidence has improved and best of all… I am following the new beginning path where I hope I can achieve my dream of becoming a florist and having my own business.

Perhaps, one day I will give a placement to a clients from New Horizons and encourage them the same way as New Horizons have encouraged me to fulfil my full potential.

I also have to thank New Horizons for allowing me to meet my Italian husband! As I walked along the street each week with my flower arrangements he always commented on how lovely they were.

This summer, we got married in Italy and I was able to make all my own wedding flowers!

Wedding Floristry Collage

Thank you New Horizons, especially my ‘Angel’ key worker Linda, for my new beginning…

… and they lived happily ever after.”