A PROJECT to support isolated young people in the Coleraine area has been awarded a major grant from by the Big Lottery Fund.
Causeway Rural and Urban Network (CRUN) is one of two organisations supporting young people in the Coleraine area that have been awarded grants totalling nearly £1million from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme.
The programme supports young people most at risk in Northern Ireland, including those who have been disengaged from education, involved in crime or in care. (See table attached for full list of NI grants awarded).
CRUN has been awarded £495,343 to run services and activities aimed at supporting vulnerable young people, aged 12-17, in the Coleraine, Portstewart and Portrush areas who are not involved in education, employment or training (NEET) and are involved in, or at risk of getting involved in, anti-social behaviour or crime.
Youth workers from the project will go out to areas where support is needed, approach young people and build trust with them, and encourage them to get involved in training and activities at the organisation’s centre in Coleraine including youth and IT qualifications, alcohol and drug awareness courses and job skills training.
“This grant will mean we can go into areas across the Causeway where there are isolated and vulnerable young people who really need our support. We will be working with the PSNI and Youth Justice Agency to identify the areas our youth workers need to focus on,” said project manager Ann McNickle.
“Many of the people living in these areas have simply lost hope. They often feel worthless and have lost all motivation to make something of their lives because there’s nothing out there’s no opportunities for training or jobs available to them. They are just hanging around in gangs and because they’re bored this can lead to anti-social behaviour.
“There are a lot of places with graffiti on the walls and there can also be drugs and alcohol involved. If we don’t address these issues with the young people now they will be the ones getting into trouble in later years that could lead them into crime.”
She continued: “The activities we have planned will give the young people social skills, they will learn that they have to take responsibility for what they do, they will be coached in interviewing and other job skills, and the citizenship programme will give them the chance to get involved in activities, such as gardening or clean ups that will help them make positive contributions to their communities.”
Richard Ellis, 19, has been involved in youth projects run by the Network since he was 16. “Before I got involved I would just hang around the streets because there was very little to do and I did get into bother for messing about,” he said. “This project got me off the streets and I have not been involved with the police since. I’ve been involved in courses on alcohol and drug awareness and we cleaned up Greenmount Forest. I’m now doing an OCN in peer leadership and it’s all down to the support of the Network. I can’t thank them enough.”
Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, said: “We are already seeing the positive impact that the Empowering Young People programme is having on the lives of our most vulnerable young people during this period of recession in Northern Ireland.
“The programme is supporting a range of vital projects that are transforming the lives of isolated young people in our communities who are at risk of crime or have dropped out of school, are not in education or employment, or are living with disabilities or the impact of violence. Our funding is supporting those young people who need our help the most.”
To find out more about the Reaching Out programmes visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk