Guest Blog: Ciara Maskey blogs about her time on the young People Committee for Big Lottery Fund

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.

Ciara works as a... at Artillery Youth Club in North Belfast now.
Ciara maskey served on the first youth committee at Big Lottery Fund.

Ciara Maskey (23) was recruited as a member of the last Big Lottery Fund Empowering Young People youth committee five years ago when she was 18, and served on the committee through to the final funding decision. The youth committee included Derek Hanrahan from Omagh, Jamie Lee Christie from Ballymena and Chris Meneilly from Belfast.

This is how the youth committee experience has impacted Ciara’s life:

My family couldn’t believe it at the time. They were really impressed that I got onto the Big Lottery Fund Empowering Young People youth committee.

I applied for the position because I cared a lot about young people and I wanted to be able to play a part in making changes for others.

We had to make decisions on £20 million of funding. At first that seems like a scary amount of money but then you begin to realise how much money it takes for projects to work.

It was a fantastic experience overall. There were some really enjoyable parts and some were hard work.

One project that came up that meant a lot to me personally, and I could see immediately that it was very much needed and had so much potential.

It was the MOVE project, by NIACRO. It works with young people at risk of becoming offenders and steers them in the other direction. I could see that it was needed and that it would work well and have some real benefit. I only wish it had been around earlier to prevent some young people I know from going down the wrong route. I see news of the project now, and I’m proud that I was able to support that one in particular. I ended up volunteering for a year with them afterwards.

The media training we got was fantastic. It taught us how to be confident public speakers, and to get across key messages. I was the guest speaker at a Children in Conflict conference in Belfast  and I got to meet the First and Deputy Ministers.

I got a job at the Artillery Youth Centre right after my time with Big Lottery Fund. I learned a lot from the experience: how to promote a group, how to be a confident public speaker, what a great application looks like, and what makes a youth project really work. I’ve used that in my job every day.

If you are a young person thinking about applying to be part in the YPIL committee, my advice is to go for it. You’ll get a lot out of it and it opens a lot of doors. It is a fantastic experience.

-Ciara Maskey, youth support worker at Artillery Youth Centre.

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

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