The programme targeted young people aged between 14 – 24 years, who are disadvantaged, excluded or marginalised, have deep social and emotional needs, and are at risk of becoming involved in anti-social behaviour, violence or paramilitary activity. Typically, these young people were not in education, training or employment.
The NI executive and Irish government secured EU PEACE IV funding to deliver Peace4Youth under Children and Young People (Priority 2.1). The Peace4Youth programme was built on a number of essential design features and had a strong focus on engaging non-formal learning approaches delivered via a professionally founded youth work approach.
11 projects (each made up of a consortium of delivery organisations with a lead partner) were selected to act as delivery organisations for the programme. These partners covered a wide range of organisations including youth/community/voluntary sector organisations, training providers and further education providers.
A key component of programme delivery was the support provided to each of the delivery projects by a central Quality and Impact Body - YouthPact (a partnership of Co-operation Ireland, Ulster University, Pobal, and the National Youth Council of Ireland). It delivered responsive training to youth workers to support their youth work practice, as well as facilitated engagement and retention of participants.
Delivery of the programme commenced with Phase 1 in late 2017 and involved around 1,500 participant young people. Phase 2 commenced in early 2019 and ran until June 2022. Overall, more than 7,800 young people completed the programme.
Queens University Belfast was appointed as the impact evaluator for the Peace4Youth programme and a series of three reports have been produced. These reports were all highly positive. Almost 80% of young people surveyed indicated that they were going to progress to education, training, employment or voluntary/community engagement, and almost 90% had gained a qualification in at least one area.
"There is undeniable evidence that funded projects have positively impacted the lives of participating young people for the better. In line with the programme-level theory of change, through participation in purposefully designed projects, young people developed capabilities in three programme outcome areas of good relations, personal development, and citizenship."
- Centre for Identity and Intergroup Relations Evaluation Team, Queen University, Belfast.
The impact evaluations are available: