At ATG Group, we love looking after the environment! And we love looking after people, too! That is why we give 10% of our profits to a charity local to our head office.
Ashes to Gold was founded by ATG Group Managing Director Mark McKinney and his wife, Jacqui. It supports people with special or additional needs, mental health issues or long-term unemployed in the Causeway Coast and Glens area..
Last year alone, Ashes to Gold welcomed 3,573 to a range of activities. It also delivered 963 emergency food packs and saved 219 items from landfill.
Project Manager Alastair Christy explains, “The core aim is to provide purposeful activities to those people who want to increase their confidence, motivation and self-belief while learning new skills. We support our clients by teaching them new skills, providing counselling and empowering them with the ability to make a difference in their lives.”
The charity, which employs eight people, does this through four specific projects: Oasis, Restore, Grow and Bakery.
“Our projects have different functions,” says Alastair. “Oasis provides support and help for those who are with or recovering from mental health issues, such as counselling. The other projects provide skills that can help them find employment.”
A total of 29 people gained training qualifications last year and nine found jobs thanks to the training being given.
Alastair says 16 people were put into emergency housing thanks to Ashes to Gold. During lockdown, four people received counselling and one lady, who was the victim of domestic violence, was also rehoused and given support.
ATG Group staff also give their time with special projects, such as tree planting, and raise money through fundraising activities to support the charity.
Oasis provides support through a drop-in service, where anyone who feels isolated or lacking in confidence can meet our staff for a chat. Counselling is also on offer with one-to-one support that can help people achieve goals and move and live independently.
The project not only helps those who take part but the environment, too. People with mental or physical disabilities along with the long-term unemployed recycle and upcycle furniture. As a result, they learn new skills and confidence, which can help them gain employment.
Ashes to Gold’s Grow project focuses on inspiring the community to get physically active. It also encourages them to produce their own food in a sociable and supportive environment. Alastair says, “Working with nature and gardening increases physical, mental and social well-being. It is also rewarding when harvest time arrives and the gardens produce delicious fruits and vegetables.”
The Bakery was formed as a social enterprise four years ago and supports people with mental and physical disabilities through catering. As well as helping people understand that a healthy diet is beneficial to health, Alastair says it has also helped some people find work after learning new skills. Ashes to Gold ploughts profits back into the charity, he adds.
ATG Group Managing Director and Ashes to Gold founder Mark McKinney says giving back to the community is key to the company’s work.
He adds, “It has been remarkable and humbling watching the work of Ashes to Gold help so many people over the past seven years. ATG Group is proud to support the charity through donating 10% of our net profit each year. The ATG team also regularly donate their time to help out where they can.
“Our daily work is in helping the environment, but people are central to the company and the heart of our business. It is why I wanted to do something more than contribute financially to charity and set up Ashes to Gold.”