A Newry group that links isolated young people in care with their peers who are not in care so they can build friendships and learn from each other is one of 81 groups in Northern Ireland sharing in a grants windfall from the Big Lottery Fund.
We’ve awarded £9,870 to Express Youth in Newry through the Awards for All programme for a project that will use group activities and training to develop confidence, self esteem and relationships between young people who may have experienced abuse, trauma and loss. A total of 81 groups across Northern Ireland are sharing in a total grants windfall of £675,764.
Richard McEvoy, chair person of Express Youth, said: “Some of the young people come from backgrounds where they have experienced abuse, they may have no contact with family members, they’re quite vulnerable and they are marginalised from the community.
“But while there are lots of issues for young people in care, we have found that a lot of other young people are perceived to be OK when actually they need support too. Express Youth develops links and friendships between different groups, to build camaraderie and a sense of identity.
“This project involves a self defence programme when we also look at risk taking behaviour, alcohol and drugs issues, and sports activities including football, Pilates and circuits,” Richard said.
“We don’t sit kids down and say – tonight we’re going to talk about drink and drugs. But we weave those conversations naturally into the activities so the message is clear. We’re giving them the skills and confidence to keep themselves safe. A lot of those kids would be perceived in the community as being at high risk but this project is giving them the chance to overcome that.
“I’ve only one ask of the young people when they finish an activity and that is that every one of them must shake hands. It’s about promoting a sense of belonging and identity.”
Awards for All offers community, voluntary and statutory groups the chance to apply for small grants of between £500 and £10,000 that will have a big impact on local communities and the lives of people most in need.
Application forms and guidance notes are available to download at www.biglotteryfund.org.uk. For more details call us on 028 9055 1455, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org