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Participants of Sperrin Cultural Awareness Association are pictured alongside IFI Chairman Paddy Harte at a special graduation event in Magherafelt.

Young People Grasp Future With Both Hands

Published on:  09 May 2019

8 young people involved with Sperrin Cultural Awareness Association (SCAA) attended a special graduation event to celebrate their achievements through the ‘GRASPED’ project. The project is aimed at young people aged 16-25 in the Mid Ulster area not in employment, education or training.

Thanks to the ‘GRASPED’ project young people are able to choose more positive options through good relations, personal development and employability support.

The International Fund for Ireland’s Personal Youth Development Programme funds the project managed by SCAA, which typically engages with young people who may have faced a range of complex issues, such as those relating to mental health, substance misuse, and difficult home circumstances.

Paddy Harte, International Fund for Ireland Chairman said:

“The young people who have participated in this project deserve great credit for their commitment and dedication in transforming their lives for the better. This project has made great strides in giving these young people back their futures whether it be through education or employment. Projects like this are critical and build momentum for change, stability and prosperity.”

Since 2017, the project has worked collaboratively with partners including the PSNI and NIFRS on important topics such as ‘One Punch,’ ‘One Pill Will kill’ and ‘Road Safety.’

Participants are also prepared for employment options through a range of accredited qualifications, which also help instil confidence. These span from First Aid, Physical Education and Child Protection and OCN’s in Employability Skills to Identity, Progression, Employment and Working with Children and Young People with Special Needs.

Using a combination of workshops that explore culture awareness and identity, training and study visits, young people are given the opportunity to interact with their communities in a positive manner with the hope of gaining long term employment or integrating them into training or the education system again.

David McAuley, Youth Coordinator of Sperrin Cultural Awareness Association comments:

“The graduation event is an opportunity to celebrate what participants have achieved through ‘GRASPED’ and shows them how far they can go. Participants’ lives have been transformed, once shying away from contributing anything to now actively engaging with project leaders and workshops. All of this helps promote and preserve their culture whilst also learning about respecting others.

“The educational aspect offers qualifications as well as a range of other activities including driving and theory tests, driving lessons and craft skills.  Thanks to this funding, we’ve helped empower these young people and give them a brighter future filled with opportunity.”

Success stories and transformations are a testament to how ‘GRASPED’ is helping local young people. Six have gained full time employment, one has gone into further education and eight are committed to developing their future through the project.

One participant spoke about the impact the project has had on their life:

“I was lost, no-where to go, no-where to call my home. I ended up jumping about between a mate’s house and my brothers flat. But after a while you feel like you're over-staying your welcome, so that's why I had to keep bouncing about from place to place. It was through the help of the IFI’S PYDP programme and Sperrin Cultural Awareness Association that I'm here now. They were like my family who were there for me no matter where I moved. They took me for coffee and got me sorted with what I needed - the small things made a big difference. I was at the point in my life that I wasn't looking forward to the future but thanks to this project, I have now gained qualifications, made new friends and feel I have a future to look forward too.”

In January 2017, SCAA received £57,049 to deliver a 12 month Youth Programme with 15 young people who were socially isolated. The project received further funding of £190,695 in January 2018 for a 24 month extension to continue its 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.

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