Newington Wins 2021 Chartered Institute of Housing ‘Working in Partnership’ Award

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Since 2012, the Newington Housing Association (NHA) has been working in partnership with Newington Credit Union (NCU) to deliver an innovative project, our annual Student Bursary Scheme. This project awards bursaries to NHA tenants or household family members as well as NCU members. Each year application packs are posted to all NHA households and the Scheme is then opened to applicants who reside within an NHA household. Bursaries are awarded to students who have been accepted to undertake their studies either here within N I, the ROI or throughout Great Britain.

Grants for Students

The successful NHA candidates, capped at three per annum, are then awarded a grant of £400 to help support them with their course fees, travel costs, IT equipment or other essential items. NCU also supports up to a maximum of ten individuals per annum. Once a student is awarded a bursary from NHA or NCU, it is renewed each year and financial support is provided whilst the student remains in higher or further education, usually for up to a maximum of three years (for degree studies) but can be extended to four years dependant on the course being undertaken. This means NHA would usually supports on average up to nine students in any one academic year and up to 30 students are supported by NCU. The successful candidates are also supported by both organisations’ to open a credit union account if they currently do not have one.

Credit Union Support

Many credit unions follow a member-centric model, which generally makes them more people-friendly and accessible than banks. Access to credit union membership ensures that the successful candidates can avail of the many benefits on offer, encourage a culture of saving and reduce the likelihood of people getting into a cycle of high interest loans from less reputable lenders. These student bursaries help to support the successful candidates to achieve their own personal ambitions, aspirations, educational goals and future objectives.

Unique Partnership

Our partnership working with NCU is critical and emphasises how deeply committed both organisations are in supporting and strengthening the communities we serve. This unique partnership approach supports many students who reside locally with the financial assistance to enter and sustain their educational studies. As important. it also creates awareness of the credit union concept and the important role they can play in helping to encourage life-long saving and responsible lending for individuals, especially within the current climate.

Grant Awards Reach £100,000 +

Since 2012, NHA has awarded grants to 24 different students, totalling £22,000 and NCU has awarded grants to over 100 different students, totalling more than £100,000. This worthwhile initiative has helped support individuals to achieve various degrees ang has also introduced many individuals to the benefits of life-long saving and the importance of Credit Unions.

Personal Testimony

We know from many of the successful students who have been previously awarded these bursaries, that they have been proud to have received them and helped to alleviate some of the financial
pressure faced by local families. ‘T’ who recently received her first instalment of her student bursary from us said “The annual student bursary scheme allowed me to buy the necessary textbooks required for my course in primary teaching, which assisted me to complete assignments as well as to prepare me for my five-week school placement. Because of the bursary I was able to also buy other necessary equipment to complete my course, such as a headset, which I had to acquire because of the outbreak of Covid-19, as my teaching was moved to online learning for two of three of my school days. It also contributed to some of my living costs, therefore it relieved a lot of anxiety that I had for the academic year. I am extremely grateful to Newington Housing Association for the financial assistance I received.”

Newington’s Head of Housing & Communities

Speaking at the awards, Newington’s Head of Housing & Communities, Jacqui Gilmore said “For many families there have been significant challenges over the past 16 months. The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted many within communities throughout North Belfast and further afield. Third level education and the financial burden placed on family members to retain young people within a learning environment has probably never been more challenging. We believe that this year more than ever our awards have significantly helped and assisted students going into or remaining in, third level education.

Online Learning

With more lessons being delivered online and the associated cost placed on students with the delivery of their learning this way (i.e., increased household utilities costs such as heating, light, etc, over the winter months), along with ensuring vital access to digital devices and data to effectively participate in eLearning sessions and ensuring they can access vital advice and support networks, our bursaries have undoubtedly reduced the pressures faced by many families and provided students with some welcome relief.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, it is hoped that once the successful candidates complete their studies, they will return to North Belfast to apply the skills and knowledge they have acquired, through their future professions. We are delighted to have won such a prestigious award and I particularly want to express my gratitude to our partner organisation, Newington Credit Union, for their continued support and dedication in delivering such a fantastic initiative in partnership with us. I also want to wish to extend my best wishes to all the current students undertaking their studies during these unusual and extraordinary times”.


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