By Kathy Darling, Big Lottery Fund, Communications Assistant
A project aimed at breaking the cycle of unemployment among young people in the Lower Ormeau area has been awarded a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
The Lower Ormeau Residents’ Action Group is one of thirteen projects across Northern Ireland, awarded grants totalling over £5million from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme, supporting young people most at risk in Northern Ireland, including those who have been disengaged from education, involved in crime or in care.
The Residents’ Group been awarded a grant of £457,999 to get local young people aged 14-20 out of bed, off the streets and involved in a range of activities to improve their confidence, self esteem and employability. These will include vocational and accredited courses, work experience and voluntary work.
Gerard Rice, Centre Community Facilities Manager, said: “This project will address a culture of underachievement and a perception that the benefit trap is `cool.’
“Some of these young people may not have experienced anyone in their family being in work. They may be engaging in risk taking behaviour and many will have already come to the attention of the youth justice agencies.
“We hope this project will give them positive opportunities to engage with their community and local employers and give them a good start in life.”
To support them, the young people will be offered counselling and mentoring services. A youth drop-in facility will open at the Shaftesbury Community and Recreation Centre to encourage young people to stay off the streets and out of trouble. Incentives like go-karting and paintballing will keep them engaged in the project.
Gerard said the project would also help ease tensions between local young people and a growing ethnic minority community.
“A focused programme of mentoring, support and capacity building will not only improve the young person’s confidence, self-esteem and employability but will reintegrate them into their community and build acceptance of other cultures,” he said.
“This project will give them confidence, skills and opportunities so they no longer think that nobody cares about where they are going.”
Other projects awarded funding include Reconcillation Education and Community Training (REACT), which has been awarded £292,917 to run activities for young people aged 10-20, helping them develop personally and socially. Programmes will include health awareness, creative arts, anger managerment and outdoor education
And Something Special is using £480,290 to develop a training and employment programme for young people with a disability aged between 14-20, using music and the arts to help them gain qualification. They will be supported as they move into adulthood to set goals for further education training, volunteering and employment.
Visit our website to see other projects that have been funded: