As our community programme celebrates its tenth birthday, Stephanie says she's proud to be able to help people.
Stephanie said: “Everyone is struggling at the moment and without the help of organisations such as the Asda Foundation many groups would have folded, particularly after the pandemic. Communities now need to pull together after the last couple of years of lockdown.
"I am so happy to be back out in my community and getting to see all these incredible groups in action once again.
“There are so many groups that need our help. I am being approached now by groups as far away as Rathfriland. I hope that we can continue to support these lifeline groups and I would like to thank the Asda Foundation for making this all possible.”
Stephanie had worked for Asda for 15 years before she became community champion five years ago, and says the great connections with her customers before taking on the role made her realise what a difference she could make.
"I remember talking to the previous Community Champion and learning about so many deserving causes in our community," Stephanie said. "When the position became available my manager approached me as he could see how passionate I was about the people of Kilkeel. Initially I was nervous about applying but he had faith in me. I have never looked back since!
“I wanted the challenge and was determined to find as many groups that needed help as possible – five years later I would spend my community budget ten times over if I could!”
The first group that Stephanie helped after becoming Asda Kilkeel's community champion was Newry St. Unite (NSU). NSU formed in 2012 in response to anti-social behaviour and sectarianism in the area and worked tirelessly to open the community centre in 2018.
When Stephanie heard about their venture she was delighted to be involved, and helped the group to secure £28,152.56 from the Asda Foundation to furnish the multipurpose community hub.
Stephanie has worked with many groups since the beginning of her role, including Kingdom Men’s Shed and the Happiness Café. The Kingdom Men’s Shed welcomed Stephanie and have treated her as ‘one of us’ ever since. Stephanie has helped the group gain access to grants for tools and more recently they were nominated for the store's green token scheme.
One of Stephanie’s proudest achievements is securing a grant of £1,400 for the Happiness Café – a cause very close to her heart. The Happiness Café is held for carers and their loved ones who have had an Alzheimer’s and/or a Dementia diagnosis.
Having worked with the group for a couple of years, Stephanie has formed a strong friendship with Marie O’Brien, the founder of the organisation. Stephanie was thrilled to be able to gain funding to purchase a projector and equipment to show old movies and family videos to their patrons.