The €3m Futures project is an award-winning programme that has turned the lives of many young people around by helping them to improve their self-confidence and self-esteem. The programme has also helped them become more independent and resilient. Other positive impacts include improvements in relationship building with people from different backgrounds and in young people making a positive contribution to building a cohesive society.
The project was funded under the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding was provided by the Department for the Economy and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Ireland.
739 young people have fully completed the programme to date in both post primary school settings and in community-based provision. The participants who came from a range of diverse backgrounds and from right across Northern Ireland benefitted from a range of group sessions that explored personal development, good relations and citizenship. They also received personal mentoring support and team building outdoor educational and residential experiences.
Minister for the Economy NI, Gordon Lyons, MLA, said: “Developing the skills of young people right across Northern Ireland is a key priority for me as we work to rebuild our economy and I am determined to keep skills at the centre of our long-term strategic plans.
The Futures Project has had a really, positive impact on the young people who have participated in the programme. The new skills they have developed will enhance their career prospects and enable them to realise their potential. Now more than ever, it is vital that we support our young people, and through the Futures project, Belfast Metropolitan College, and their partners have shown great commitment in doing so.”
Minister for Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Ireland, Roderic O’Gorman, confirmed: “I would like to congratulate all those involved in the Futures Project for the success and impact of the programme. This programme has broadened the horizons of the young people who have participated and will have a lasting impact on their lives.
The success of this project is testament to the passion, commitment and resilience of not only the young people themselves but also the lead and partner organisations and youth workers who have worked together to deliver this project”.
Reflecting on the success of the project, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “Many young people today have not directly experienced the difficulties associated with our shared history, however that does not mean that they have not been indirectly impacted by it. Despite much progress there remains many underlying issues associated with transgenerational trauma, including social segregation and exclusion which create real everyday challenges for our young people, and can prevent them from reaching their full potential in life.
“The EU PEACE IV Programme was specifically designed to address these issues, supporting a wide-range of cross-community and cross-border projects, such as Futures, that are enhancing the capacity of children and young people to form positive and meaningful relationships with young people of a different background. This type of support is vital to develop our young citizens and create a more vibrant and forward-looking society. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this project, particularly for their fantastic efforts during the height of the pandemic.”
Louise Warde-Hunter, Principal of Belfast Metropolitan College, confirmed:
“Belfast Met supports learners to fulfil themselves through education and skills development and progress into employment. Our inclusive training programmes, which are in high demand by employers, provide opportunities to enable these individuals to thrive and flourish in the workplace.
“We’re delighted that with the support of PEACE funding we have been able to lead this ground-breaking partnership project that has transformed the lives of these young people.”
Speaking about their time on the project, a young participant, confirmed: “My confidence and social skills were not that good and the Futures staffs’ guidance and encouragement really helped me to develop my self-esteem. Futures has given me the courage to move into my own home and become independent and helped me to believe that if I work hard, I can achieve my goals. I have such a sense of accomplishment after completing the programme.”
Another participant added: “Futures has helped me to start planning my career and put my dreams into action. It has fanned the flames of that excitement about my future and made me mentally ready for the next chapter and I am thrilled to have been part of the Futures experience.”
Futures Project celebrated its achievements at a special closure event in Belfast Met e3 Springvale campus on 3rd February 2022. For more information on Futures Project, please contact Project Manager Jamie Maze by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the EU Peace IV Programme, please contact John McCandless, Communications Manager with the SEUPB via 07841 367052 or email: email@example.com
Pictured (L-R): Jamie Maze, Belfast Metropolitan College; Louise Warde Hunter, Belfast Metropolitan College; Stephen Barr, Start 360; Gina McIntyre, SEUPB.