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Traditional skills project paints a brighter future for Ballymoney

on .

Ballymoney DAS 0022web

A County Antrim project that is revitalising traditional skills and crafts has been praised for its role in reducing tensions and turning around young lives in Ballymoney and surrounding areas.

Launched last year with £86,500 support from the International Fund for Ireland, the Ulidia Training Peace Impact Project (PIP) has engaged almost 100 young people in culturally relevant activities that encourage learning and community development through a range of traditional crafts including banner and drum head painting, embroidery and leatherwork.

It is hoped that by preserving these skills, the project will create new opportunities for them to be developed as part of a social economy tourism product that can generate employment in the area. The project is also uniquely deliver other learning opportunities and offer a chance for wider community dialogue on issues linked to conflict and division.

In recent weeks, the International Fund for Ireland extended funding for the project with an additional £21,700. The Chairman of the Fund, Dr Adrian Johnston, said:

“The Ulidia Training PIP is a powerful example of how positive dialogue and meaningful engagement can make a real difference and offer positive alternatives for those involved.  It is opening new pathways to training, employment and enterprise and turning young lives around in the process. This project has made significant progress in a relatively short period of time and we were pleased to extend our support with additional funding.

“In just over a year, this project has helped reduce the potential for violence and many participants are finding positive leadership roles within their community. The reality is that young people in many areas across Northern Ireland are affected by issues such as drugs, alcohol and potential involvement in criminal activities. Projects like this are critical and build momentum for positive change, stability and prosperity.”

Kenny Blair Ulidia Training PIP Project Worker said:

 “Our focus is on creating a vibrant community that is prosperous, safe and has the needs of all at its core. We know that young people in the area are faced with difficult and complex pressures and often believe that opportunities are limited. This project is about giving them access to new skills and opportunities, empowering them to make better choices and take control of their own lives.  This project has had the added bonus of breathing new life into crafts that have been important for this community, but were in danger of being forgotten.

“It is pleasing to see individuals gain a better understanding of their culture, their own ability and of the role they can play in the community. It is encouraging and challenging everyone to raise their expectations for this area and giving them a role in shaping it. Our ambition is to build on our early achievements and translate the enthusiasm here into a tourism product that can further boost this area.”

The International Fund for Ireland awarded £86,500 to Ulidia Training in June 2014 and provided a further £21,700 in June 2015 to extend the programme until December. Both allocations were made through the Fund’s Peace Impact Programme (PIP) which looks to address some of the most sensitive, complex and challenging issues within areas where there have been low levels of engagement in peace building.