Eighteen young people are celebrating enhancing their employability and boosting their confidence, thanks to a cross-community initiative in West Belfast.
The Pathway Programme: Empowering Young People for their Futures is a partnership between Workforce Training Services (Springfield Road) and Impact Training (Shankill Road) targeting young people aged 14-16 years of age through the International Fund for Ireland’s Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP).
It typically engages with young people who may have faced a range of complex issues, such as those relating to mental health, substance misuse, difficult home circumstances and at risk of disengaging from school.
Thanks to this cross-community approach, the project is engaging with some of the most affected young people from areas who still experience segregation with nearby Peace Walls and have failed to benefit fully from the Peace Process.
The group marked the end of its first year with a celebration event at Crumlin Road Gaol where each participant’s achievements were recognised with a certificate presentation.
IFI Chairman Paddy Harte said: “Our PYDP programme is designed to target those who feel left behind. It goes beyond the traditional concept of a youth initiative and allows participants to become actively involved in planning their own future goals and ambitions. We help them build and develop essential life skills that foster good relations, build confidence and resilience and ultimately make them more employable.
“We know that many communities throughout Northern Ireland can feel isolated and elements who are opposed to peace and reconciliation remain. The Fund works with areas that traditionally face many challenges including deprivation, low employment skills, drug and alcohol abuse, criminal activity and anti-social behaviour. We firmly believe that future generations deserve better and that young people hold the key to success and growth within our local communities.”
The project was awarded £123,319 in 2017 and a further £91,385 in late 2018 to deliver the project through a range of Good Relations, Personal Development skills and Further Education/ Employability Development. It is tailored to suit each individual and those involved are actively encouraged to help co-design activities and outcomes in line with their needs and interests. Participants have had first-hand experience of potential career paths such as Motor Mechanics, Engineering, Hairdressing, Joinery and Catering and Hospitality.
Paul Boyle, Project coordinator said; “This project engages on issues such as anti-social behaviour and low self-esteem that deeply affect the lives of young people in this community. It equips them with the knowledge, skills and competencies to build a more positive future for themselves and others. Each of our participants have taken brave steps forward and raised expectations for themselves while claiming positive roles within their community. Many have been actively involved in community projects such as building a sensory learning classroom, engaging with elderly residents nearby and constructing picnic benches for two local charities.
“Over 40% of young people who reach school leaving in age in Belfast still do not achieve the target A*-C grade at GCSE level, which indicates a clear need for this project. Many have poor experiences with education and leave with very few qualifications and we want to change that through early intervention.
“By building confidence alongside mentoring and personal and professional development, this project is investing in its participants and giving them confidence to believe in themselves to map out better choices, a life free of crime and anti-social behaviour and create a brighter future.”
Over the next twelve months, a new cohort of 16 young people will begin a series of Good Relations and personal development qualifications, work experience, residentials and a community focussed project. There will also be very early engagement with participants, parents, tutors, mentors and other key stakeholders to co-design certain aspects of the project to ensure retention and continued success.
A young participant from the project added: “My confidence and self-esteem has greatly improved throughout my time on Pathway Project. I feel more positive about my future, knowing better what my strengths are and how they can be used. I have never achieved anything at school and without the Pathway Project I would be finishing 5th year without any direction or motivation. I have faced some serious personal problems at home over the past two years and the Pathway programme has been a good distraction. My mentor helped me to understand how to better handle difficult situations ensuring they don’t ruin my future. I leave the Pathway Project hoping to pursue a career as a mechanic and I have a goal to gain an apprenticeship at BMW before I am 18.”
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