BIG’s young recruit visits inspirational project

At Big Lottery Fund, we are recruiting 10 young people to help steer our £50 million  Empowering Young People programme. We need four young people to join with four NI Committee members to make funding decisions under this programme. We’re also looking for six others to stand in as needed and support the four decision makers. These ten young people will be our Young People in the Lead committee.

Interested in our Young People in the Lead committee? Apply here:

Chris Meneilly is a member of the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching out: Empowering Young People Committee. He was recruited to help us decide where money to support the most isolated and vulnerable young people in Northern Ireland should be spent.  He recently visited a project funded through the programme. It proved an inspiring experience….

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By Chris Meneilly

“The Rainbow Project, which received a Big Lottery Fund grant in March of this year, is a charity offering a wide range of advocacy and support services to the young LGBT community of Londonderry/Derry and the surrounding areas.

“I currently serve on Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme committee under which The Rainbow Project was awarded funding and had the great pleasure of visiting the Derry based drop in centre to meet with the young people and co-ordinators of the newly established drop-in centre and youth groups of the project.

“Serving on the committee has been a great experience for me and visiting a project such as this to see the difference Lottery funding makes to peoples lives is just fantastic.

“Myself and three others involved with the Reaching Out: Empowering Young People Committee were invited into The Rainbow Project’s newly established Derry based drop-in centre, offered a nice cup of tea and talked with the young people and staff about the work they were doing (which really was quite a lot).

“Both the project coordinators and the young people we spoke with told of us of the various projects and programmes they had either initiated or taken part in.  The young people showed us signs and placards they had made for Gay Pride Belfast and the Foyle Pride Festival. They had also recently finished making a DVD for use in the training of teachers, youth workers and many others in which they shared their experiences of bullying.

“As well as producing publications and publicity materials such as comics and their quarterly magazine, The Rainbow Project also offers accredited training and educational programmes to the twenty of so members of its drop in centre at Londonderry.  The courses offered to the young people include OCN accreditation in Peer Mentoring and Youth work as well as assertiveness training and any other type of personal development training the young people feel would be of benefit to them.

“One of the young people who had previously lived in New Zealand said that the project had been a great help to him since moving to Derry, helping him get on his feet and meet new people, another of the young people said that his CV was a blank sheet of paper before joining the project and now it was two pages long.

“The project is looking for new premises for its youth groups and drop-in centre due to ever growing numbers and hopefully they will soon find the ideal building for their project.  The drop in centre where they are currently based was small but had a homely feel to it already despite only existing from March.  I got the impression that the young people viewed it as a safe haven to be themselves and a home from home.

“The project coordinators and young people have many more programmes in the pipelines and I wish such a brilliant project all the success in the world.

“The Project director, John O’Doherty, said that now was the dawning of the civil rights movement for the LGBT community and with such inspiring young people as those we had the pleasure of meeting on our visit I think a change in LGBT civil rights is just around the corner!”

To find out about the support offered by the Rainbow project visit their website:

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