Lisburn-based social enterprise Employers For Childcare has launched a £2.5 million build-project of a new family adventure centre called ‘High Rise’ at its existing premises on Altona Road, which will create up to 50 new jobs.
High Rise will incorporate a Clip ‘n Climb experience, only the second of its kind in Northern Ireland, along with a soft play area, sensory room and a number of spaces for birthday parties and corporate room hire. The centre is designed to be inclusive and accessible for all and will feature an innovative sensory room and quiet room benefiting a range of users, including children with additional needs, as well as a Changing Places toilet. As a social enterprise, any profits from High Rise will be invested in Employers For Childcare’s charity, which supports parents with dependent children to get into work, and stay in work.
Employers For Childcare will be known to many as the UK’s only social enterprise Childcare Voucher provider, so this new social enterprise venture represents a significant change in direction for the organisation. However, it is one that has come about as a direct result of years of research with families. In particular, we know that families who have a child with a disability can find it particularly difficult to access leisure activities that are suitable for the whole family.
Chief Executive Marie Marin explains: “We have for some time been considering how our organisation could respond to this need identified by the families we work with. Given the Government’s decision to close Childcare Vouchers to new entrants last October, it was vital for the survival of our charity, which depends on our social enterprise revenue, to source additional income. At the same time, we wanted to address a need for accessible and inclusive leisure activities. From this, High Rise was born.
“High Rise will be unique in offering a facility that caters for all families, including those with children with additional needs. This has been at the core of our mission in developing this project and reflects our ethos as a social enterprise and charity. Alongside the activities on offer, parents attending the centre will have the opportunity to access our Family Benefits Advice Service, which can help them ensure they are receiving all the financial support they are entitled to, including with childcare costs.”
Attending the launch, Councillor Uel Mackin, Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, which approved the planning application for the project, said: “High Rise represents an innovative addition to the wide range of leisure facilities already on offer within the Lisburn area and will play an important role in bringing visitors to the city. It is our mission to ensure Lisburn is an attractive place for families to live, work and play and High Rise will make a valuable contribution to this.”
Construction work for High Rise got underway in early January, with the centre due to open later in 2019. The new jobs within High Rise will include a mixture of full and part-time roles and will include managers, supervisors, activity instructors and café/catering staff. Recruitment will commence in the spring and anyone with an interest in applying should email: firstname.lastname@example.org.