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N.I. interface projects supporting young people awarded major Lottery grants

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Northern Ireland
Reaching Out Empowering Young People
Release date:
7 2 2013

Projects to improve the opportunities of isolated young people living in interface areas in Belfast have been awarded major grants from the Big Lottery Fund.

Colin Glen Trust (CGT) and Ardoyne Youth Club have been awarded grants totalling over £960,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme. The announcement is part of a grants roll-out of £4.2million to nine projects across Northern Ireland that will support young people most at risk in Northern Ireland, including those who have been disengaged from education, involved in crime or in care.

Ardoyne Youth Club has been awarded £469,845 to run support services and activities for young people who are at risk of getting involved in criminal activity in a number of interface areas including Ardoyne, Oldpark and Cliftonville.

Youth workers from the project will go out onto the streets to encourage young people to come along to the youth club, on Ardoyne’s Flax Street, to take part in a number of courses and activities to improve their education, boost their mental health, confidence and self esteem, teach them skills and help them find jobs. 

As well as running courses and activities, the project will also start up a social enterprise in the youth club – a gym where the young people can get jobs and gain the skills needed to find jobs. Leader in Charge Thomas Turley, 29, who was involved in rioting in the Ardoyne area when he was a teenager, said the funding could not have come at a better time.  “With the social unrest going on at the moment it’s more important than ever to show these young people that anti-social behaviour and rioting are not the answer, and they can do something positive with their lives,” he said.

“I used to be one of these young people, hanging about with nothing to do and no hope in sight. I ended up hanging about on the streets taking drugs and drinking. I got involved in rioting because I was attracted to the adrenaline and the buzz. There was no one there to tell me to stop and I just didn’t care about anything, so I just went for it. I was given a community service order and referred to this youth club, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

He continued: They showed me that I could make something of myself if I got my head down and I went on to get qualifications in youth work at university. I came back to work in this community and give something back and show other young people that they can do the same with their lives.”

Thomas said that youth workers would build relationships with the young people and encourage them to get involved in activities including sports, arts and dance. They will also run suicide awareness workshops and careers advice. “This is a deprived area where many young people drop out of school and there are issues with young people standing around on street corners drinking and taking drugs and getting involved in anti-social behaviour, which can lead them into low level crime,” he explained. “This project will give them the skills and confidence to change the direction of their lives and make something of themselves.”

Colin Glen Trust (CGT) has also been awarded £491,122 to run activities and training courses in Colin Glen Forest Park to improve the opportunities of isolated young people who are involved in anti-social and crime in the Colin Glen, Greater Belfast and Lisburn areas, as well as stopping vandalism in the park.

There are also plans for midnight soccer, multi-skills and volunteer programmes, workshops in drug, alcohol and suicide awareness, team building and circuit training. Once they have gained qualifications, the young people will be encouraged to start a social enterprise activity club such as key fit classes for adults or a summer scheme for local children.

“This is one of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland,” said Chief Executive Colin O’Neill. “Young people tend to gather on the streets or in the park and there have been issues here with drinking and drugs. There have also been cases where young people have taken bins and set them alight in the park and there have been problems with scrambler bikes and cases of joy riding.

“The social unrest in local communities in Belfast is something that we are aware of it when it comes to running this project. We will be working across a number of areas, developing relationships with other community organisations working in these communities to target those young people most in need. We want to show young people that rioting, violence and anti-social behaviour are not the right paths.”

Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, said: “Our Empowering Young People programme is transforming the lives of the most vulnerable young people in Northern Ireland including those who are at risk of crime or have dropped out of school, are not in education or employment, or are living with disabilities or the impact of violence.” 

He added: “The programme is supporting vital projects to improve the opportunities of isolated young people by giving them the chance to volunteer, improve their education, take part in training and find jobs. These projects are bringing young people from different backgrounds together to increase understanding and tolerance and prevent them from getting involved in anti-social behaviour, violence and crime. “

A full list of grants awarded to Northern Ireland 

To find out more about the Reaching Out programmes visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
For more information contact:
Andrew Kennedy Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 02890 551 426
Out of hours contact: 07788 640 791

Notes to Editors
• The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since June 2004 BIG has awarded over £4.4bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £28 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.