The Youth Leadership Programme aims to help build positive futures for young people who have the potential to be leaders in their community but vulnerable to involvement in high-risk and criminal activity.
It provides young people with a support structure to address personal and social challenges in their lives. Key outcomes include personal development, building pathways to further education/employment, and promoting belonging and participation in the wider community.
To date approximately 200 young people have taken part in eight youth leadership projects. The latest of these projects in the Lower Shankill Estate and Sandy Row area of Belfast.
Each project has been adapted to meet the specific needs of the group and the environment where the participants live. The young people of the Lower Shankill felt that getting a driving licence would greatly enhance their chances of getting employment. In return the participants of “Driving to Success” give a commitment to work as volunteers within the junior youth club. Participants on the ROI Leadership Programme gain a Level 1 Sports Leadership Award, and the skills and experience gained are then applied to tackling issues of importance to the young people in their local community
For the majority of the participants, taking part in Co-operation Ireland’s Youth Leadership programme has made a real difference to their lives. They have undergone major changes in their lives and blossomed into positive role models for their own peer group and younger members of the community, which has not gone unnoticed by other people in their community.
These changes in behaviour and attitude have resulted in:
- Increased interest in their own personal development
- Increased numbers returning to education and/or employment
- Reduced levels of anti-social behaviour and alcohol and substance misuse
- Greater willingness to engage with others in their society
Co-operation Ireland plan to introduce this Youth Leadership model in various towns and cities across the island of Ireland.