Deepening divisions across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties require urgent support at a critical time in the Peace Process, according to the International Fund for Ireland.
The call to strengthen partnerships and boost community leadership is key to rebuilding trust, which has been broken by ongoing uncertainty.
This insight comes on the back of the IFI’s latest funding allocation, which will invest £1,133,026/€1,359,631 into nine projects, which are working with the most polarised communities who have not felt the benefits of peace and reconciliation.
The funding has been allocated to a range of initiatives across the Peace Impact Programme (PIP) and Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP). These groups face many challenges and are working hard to remove the influence of paramilitaries and offer alternative paths of engagement for opportunities and positive life choices.
Paddy Harte, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland says: “External challenges such as the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit, the lack of a functioning Executive and the rise of hardline dissidents have created a considerable void, which is having a very negative impact upon communities.
“Understandably, we can see that these challenges have resulted in mistrust and alienation for some. It comes at a critical time in the Peace Process where we want to see communities flourish instead of returning to darker times of the past.
“The Fund is the only organisation that is engaging with some of the most disengaged in society. We are transforming lives and going where others aren’t in order to give those communities the tools to rebuild trust and prevent the escalation of tensions and polarisation.
“Despite a clear lack of political leadership across the board, community leaders must be commended as they have risen to the challenge during these uncertain times. They are unsung heroes but without collaboration with other key organisations/government, they simply cannot deliver positive outcomes on the scale that is required.
“Our programmes are making important inroads to help resolve legacy issues, encourage dialogue around difficult conversations as well as tackling deprivation, employment skills, mental health issues, drugs and alcohol abuse and paramilitary activity."
“It is vital that this momentum continues so that communities can prosper, become self-sufficient and offer a better life for generations to come.”
The funding packages announced are geographically spread across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties. The Fund’s PIP programme is designed to deliver real and positive community transformation through sensitive interventions in communities that have not previously, or have only partially, participated in peace building and reconciliation activities. Over 48,500 people across 45 projects have engaged with this programme in the last year.
The PYDP programme is unlike any other youth programme that currently exists. It focuses on the needs of young people who are at risk of isolation, polarisation and /or recruitment into organisations opposed to the Peace Process. Typically, participants will have come from challenging backgrounds, been in the criminal justice system, suffered from poor mental health, have addiction issues or been affected by homelessness. Thanks to this unique approach, 431 young people have progressed to further education and training, 153 have secured jobs and over 1600 accreditations have been achieved.
The Chairman took the opportunity to thank the international donors to the Fund - the European Union and the Governments of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - for their support.
The latest funding package is as follows:
Peace Impact Programme:
Personal Youth Development Programme:
Full Funding Allocations:
Peace Impact Programme
£142,365/€170,838 to Black Mountain Shared Space Project for a 17 month project in the West Belfast area. The project will develop and manage initiatives to address education, training and employability deficits in the area, as well as act as the main forum for cross-community dialogue and peace building in the Upper Springfield/Upper Shankill Road area.
£145,079/€174,095 to West Bann Development for an 18 month project in the Heights and Killowen areas in Coleraine. The project has four strands: Culture, Community, Skills, and Youth. The strands offer a range of activities from practical employability to challenging discussions focused on culture and identity and, how these issues affect the local communities. The project is keen to build relationships, and challenge sectarian attitudes.
County Cavan/ County Monaghan
£137,438/€164,926 to Tullacmongan Resource Centre for 16 months to extend and expand the ‘Tullacmongan Impacting Peace Project’. The aim of the programme is to foster community cohesion and facilitate capacity building by offering training programmes, specifically targeting the Tullacmongan Housing Estate in Cavan town and cross-border in Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone.
£142,662/€171,194 to North Leitrim Glens Development Company for an 18 month project to engage with young people, women and older men with no previous experience of community development and peace building activities, in cross-community, cross-border communities in Leitrim and Fermanagh. Through capacity training and ‘back to education’ programmes, the project will underpin the Peace Process and promote economic prosperity.
Personal Youth Development Programme
£127,999/€153,599 to Galbally Youth and Community Association for 15 months to extend and expand the ‘Game Changer’ Project. This project will operate in the South and West Tyrone Region and provide young people with a personal development programme and, good relations, social and skills training, to help progress to further education or employment and improve participants’ confidence, self-esteem, resilience and motivation.
£122,929/€147,515 to Glasgowbury for 15 months for the ‘I AM’ project targeting 16-25 year olds. The aims of the project include learning new and transferable skills, building good relations, developing confidence and communication skills, practical problem solving, improving awareness of self and others and, respect and understanding of different cultures through teamwork and individual work.
£163,438/€196,126 to Roe Valley Residents Association for the 15 month ‘Building Brighter Futures’ Project. The project will work with disengaged young people aged 16 to 25 years in the Limavady area. The project aims to improve participants’ social skills, personal development and employment opportunities through personalised development plans, one-to-one mentoring support, and training.
£68,774/€82,529 to Downstrands Family Resource Centre for 12 months for the ‘Ignite Your Future’ project. This project will target 16-25 year olds in the rural South West region of Donegal. The project will work with communities experiencing high levels of deprivation. The programme will equip young people with the skills and knowledge to help them overcome social isolation, build peer support and begin to develop critical thinking and independence.
£82,342/€98,810 to Inishowen Development Partnership for the 15 month ‘CHANCE’ Project, to support marginalised 16-25 year olds in the Inishowen Peninsula area. Skills training, personal development and leisure activities will facilitate pathways for progression into education, training or work.
For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.
International Fund for Ireland
28-32 Alfred St.
+44 (0)28 9031 2884