Today we’ve announced our latest Awards for All grants to 88 groups across Northern Ireland.
One of the groups celebrating is the Short Strand Drug Awareness Group in east Belfast. They have been awarded £10,000 to run educational workshops and sports activities for young people at risk of getting involved in drugs, anti-social behaviour and interface violence.
They are one of 88 groups across Northern Ireland who are sharing in a total grants windfall of £766,170.
Lance Shields, workshop leader and sports coach for the group, said: “When people talk about drugs awareness issues, anti-social behaviour and interface violence, it’s usually associated with young men and that’s who a lot of the intervention work is aimed at. So we wanted some of our activities to focus on young girls and women, aged between 10 and 17, in the area.
“We did a survey with the girls and we were surprised to see that football was one of the ones they were keen to do. We run drugs awareness workshops and activities like football, in the evenings and weekends.”
Local father Conan Keenan said: “Two of my daughters are involved in the football sessions and they love it. Cailin-Eire is also involved in the drugs awareness workshops.
“We live on an interface area so if they weren’t involved in activities like the football or the learning workshops then I’d be worried where my daughters were and what they are up to as you do get crowds of young ones hanging about and trying to cause trouble.
“I can see the difference in the girls too as they spend time with the group — it’s helped them mature and meet other people.
“You can see the positive impact the group and other groups working with young people are having in the area. Three or four years ago you would have seen 50 or 60 kids hanging about but now thanks to all the alternative activities for young people it’s more like five or six.”
Cailin–Eire Keenan, 15, said: “I really enjoy going to all the activities the group puts on, especially football. I go to the drugs awareness classes as well where I learnt about the danger of drugs and some of the older boys gave us some warnings. When I’m out with friends we see people drinking and smoking but I’m not interested in it. I’m getting to know new people and having a lot of fun. My dad is happy because it keeps me away from the interface.”
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 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