Coordinator Nigel Duke has worked in Portadown since 1987. He believes the Personal Youth Development Programme ‘Changing the Landscape’ project is a culmination of his life’s work and with the assistance of the Edgarstown Residents Association Committee and IFI, the investment of time, money and resources in the people of Portadown is paying off in wonderful ways.
“It has been a game changer and a life changer for the young people, they are moving on from negativity to positivity, which is fantastic,” says Nigel.
‘Changing the Landscape’ sees engagement across six Protestant housing estates.
Drugs are a big issue for the town, with a particular impact on young people in terms of their self-belief and self-worth. Education is key to helping tackle issues of addiction to drugs, alcohol and also gambling.
“We have lost two to substance misuse or as we would say poor decisions and choices. There are very great highs in the project and very great lows and in the middle we have these young people trying to find themselves in the world.”
He can see the young people growing in confidence and understanding and believes the project will make their lives better.
“There is a big buy in from the young people,” he remarks.
“We can take young people who have absolutely no educational attainment at all and start from there.
We maybe had four GCSEs among 12 of them but we have seen many going on to study at University.”
Taking an interest in the young people has paid off greatly. One-to-one mentoring and helping build up personal plans and discover their potential is hugely appreciated by those taking part.
“They very quickly realise they are someone and worth something. It gives them the confidence to go into an interview and say I want this job, or I want to be on this course.”
Among the achievements over the last year has been the transformation in one young participant who had been struggling to cope with life. From being in real despair, they have developed a sense of self-belief and confidence that led to taking up a place at university.
Nigel is all about giving young people a voice and place where their opinions are valued so they can feel confident about being leaders, about making a contribution and being valued as much as everyone else.
Team building exercises over the last year has allowed time and space to put building blocks in place to create real interventions in the young people’s lives.
Nigel believes: “The project is changing lives and shaping futures 100%.”
“One of the young lads in university had a very severe gambling problem. Thanks to the IFI running an event at Armagh City Hotel with former Gaelic footballer Oisin McConville, they pulled together a programme around the issue of gambling.
“The IFI is prepared to put on events that are really meeting the needs out there- it’s just not paying lip service.”
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