December 2015: Big Lottery Fund are putting Young People in the Lead by recruiting four young people to the decision making committee for our Empowering Young People programme. They will help decide how to allocate £50 million of funding between now and 2021. Find out more
Today we’re launching a major multi-million pound programme to support young people to cope with challenges in their lives.
The £50 million Empowering Young People programme will support young people across Northern Ireland including young carers, young people with a learning disability and young people who face barriers to education, training or employment.
Grants of between £100,000 and £600,000 are available to projects that will empower young people to transform their lives by increasing their health and well being, getting them ready for education, work or training and building stronger relationships in their communities.
Any voluntary or community sector group that receives funding will be expected to involve young people in their project. The funding programme, which will support young people aged between eight and 25, will remain open for applications for six years.
The Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair, Frank Hewitt, said: “I am delighted to launch the new Empowering Young People programme, which builds on our previous investment and work with young people across Northern Ireland.
“We have used our experience and talked to stakeholders about how best to support young people. From this, we believe that young carers, young people with a learning disability and young people at risk of falling out of education or work should be supported initially through this programme.
“We want to fund great projects that increase their skills and confidence, and support them to have stronger relationships so they can cope better with the challenges they face and reach their full potential. We are looking forward to seeing the positive impact this money will make to many young people across Northern Ireland.”
Henok Zewdeu, 19, who is originally from Ethiopia, came to Belfast on his own speaking little English aged 14. He was taken into care and struggled in school because of the language barrier. He is now working towards a bright future thanks to Include Youth’s Essential Employability project. It is funded with a grant of almost £600,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.
Henok said: “It was really difficult to do the school work because English isn’t my first language. I failed my GCSEs. I felt like life was awful and I had failed my education. But then my social worker told me about the Give and Take Scheme at Include Youth. I thought, okay, I’ll try it,” he said.
“I’ve been here studying for my OCN qualifications and essential skills in English, Maths and ICT since last year. The staff support me with my studies and also helped me get a work placement at Clements coffee shop in Belfast city centre two days a week.
“Now I’m moving on – hopefully I am going to Belfast Metropolitan College to study software development in September. Life has been tough but you have to stand up for yourself and work hard. I hope my family would be proud of me.”
More information about Empowering Young People, including details of support workshops, can be found on our website