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When the West Belfast community was given access to the vacant Conway Mill in 1983, Fr. Des Wilson and a group of community leaders immediately decided that one floor should be devoted to education. Since then the Education Centre has evolved to offer a host of adult and youth educational, training and cultural opportunities.
Adult Education

Pauline Kersten, Education Centre Project Manager

Adult learners trying to enter the workforce can avail themselves of essential skills in Math, English and History in partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College in order to earn their General Course Secondary Education (GCSE), the equivalent of a high school certificate. Most of the students entering the GCSE courses are young adults and single parents who want to make a new life for themselves. Other courses in computer technology, preparation for University, parenting, Irish, homeopathy, aromatherapy and reflexology, personal development and English language for non-English speaker are offered, some free, some for a small fee.

Conway Health Matters

The Healing Centre encourages people to use complementary therapies as an alternative and more natural approach to health matters rather than relying on prescription drugs.  The centre was created to combat the high dependency on prescription drugs that prevails in West Belfast.  Trained therapists perform homeopathy, kinesiology, reflexology, aromatherapy and acupuncture. In order to make these treatments accessible, therapists volunteer their time and ask their clients for a donation only, normally no more than £5.
Youth Education

Conway Education Centre strives to provide a safe and secure environment where all children are treated with dignity and respect.  Students are actively encouraged to express their opinions but are expected to adhere to a respectful code of behavior.  The Centre provides the following educational support programs for children and young people.

Day School

Founded in the early 1970’s by Fr. Des Wilson in response to requests from parents to do something for children who had disengaged from mainstream school, the Day School serves young people ages 14 to 16 years.  They attend the Day School on a daily basis during the school year, receiving Math and English core education plus training in computer technology, personal and social development, woodworking skills, arts, drama, cooking and photography.

Woodworking Shop

The Woodworking Shop has a dedicated instructor who works with 14 to 16 year old boys and girls to teach them woodworking skills.  They learn to make everything from table lamps to outdoor furniture.  They are instructed on safe handling and use of power and hand tools as part of their craft.

After School Program

Children who avail themselves of the After School Program come from the local West Belfast area situated between two of the most deprived wards in Belfast and Northern Ireland.  Most of the students who participate come from single-parent families.  About 30 children participate each year, arriving at the Education Centre around 3:00 p.m. each day.  After a light snack they receive homework assistance for an hour then participate in art, computer skills, storytelling, poetry or games.  Funding for the staff comes from Children in Need but the Education Centre must raise its own funds for refreshments, art materials and other small supplies.


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