Helping mark our 50th anniversary, we’re getting to know some of the people making a difference in our communities.
Next up, is Mary Watson, who is the Secretary of Carnlough Community Association and works closely with Housing Executive representatives in the area on environmental and other schemes.
Carnlough Community Association has developed a number of environmental schemes in the village, thanks to help from Housing Executive funding.
Mary Watson, Secretary of Carnlough Community Association, works alongside chair Patricia McConnell and a small team of committee members to help improve the area.
Established in 2005, the local community group provides activities for young, old, and environmental projects in local schools.
Mary said; “We hope to make Carnlough a better place to live in and also better for visitors too – as we are aware it’s a tourist village.
People love to come here and the village is still expanding. For a very long time, we have had help through Supporting Communities and the Housing Executive.
They have provided grants to help us do projects with the schools, environmental improvements and work with different groups of people.
We have an input into housing and the needs of tenants with the local Housing Community Network and I am involved in the Rural Residents Forum.”
Through the Rural Residents Forum, Mary looks at the particular needs of rural residents in the area.
“We have a number of different issues here such as transport and internet connectivity and the hidden problem of homelessness.
It’s not the kind where you will see someone on the streets – it’s the likes of people in their 20s who are still living at home and cannot find a place to live unless they go to Belfast.”
Environmental schemes that received funding from the Housing Executive have helped to transform the harbour area in Carnlough – as well as encouraging pupil involvement with growing vegetables and flowers in both village schools.
Mary also praised the hands-on approach from the Housing Executive across Northern Ireland.
“Recently the Housing Executive has funded and supported a local residents’ group and transformed a piece of spare ground into a community orchard and garden on the Croft Estate. The group are busy growing fruit and vegetables in raised beds. This has helped to develop terrific community spirit.
“As someone who lived in England for a long time and came back 10 years ago, I feel the Housing Executive is an absolutely wonderful organisation.
Northern Ireland is a small place and the Housing Executive has its eye open around the whole of it.
The Housing Executive goes the extra mile and across the water, housing would not be as central as this is.”
“It’s not just about the houses it’s the people who live in the houses and the quality of their lives,” Mary said.
Watch our interview with Mary below.