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. Many of these young people will not be 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). Peace4Youth is built on a number of essential design features and the programme has 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 quality and impact body - YouthPact (a partnership of Co-operation Ireland, Ulster University, Pobal, and the National Youth Council of Ireland) was also appointed to perform quality assurance and impact support role with the projects.
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. There has been in excess of 7,500* young people who completed the programme. (*Figure to be verified)
Queens University Belfast has been appointed as the impact evaluator for the programme and 2 reports have been received to date (1st as Phase 1 was coming to an end and a Phase 2 Mid-term report in 2021). Both reports were highly positive with the majority of indicators under the main outcome areas (good relations, personal development and citizenship) showing clear progression for young people. 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. A final report is due later in 2022.
These were Peace4Youth projects:
- Extern - The Third Space Project
- Springboard Opportunities – Journeys
- Youth Action – Amplify
- South West College – Youthscape
- The Bytes Project - Peace Bytes
- Include Youth – Strive
- Ashton Community Trust – Breakthrough
- YMCA Ireland
- Youth Link – Transform Education for Positive
- Belfast Metropolitan College – Futures Project
- MENCAP – HEROES
Here are the thoughts of some of the participants:
“I just feel I’m really finding my place in life for the first time and you’ve really helped me with that”
“I feel empowered to create change in my community that I never thought I would have the confidence to do."
“At first I was really nervous as I was a recluse. Having severe depression and anxiety limited me to the house most days/weeks. Amplify was my way to change that. I needed structure, routine, stability and support in my daily living and trying to prepare to go back into work. I wanted to make friends and educate myself so I can use the knowledge in my community and work in my local community.”
“I have a lot more respect for the other community. I wouldn’t have walked in certain areas before, but now I will. I have a better understanding and there is respect for both sides”
* Names witheld. All quotes provided by participants on the programme delivered by the named providers.