June 7, 2021
Springboard, as lead partner, with Roe Valley Residents Association and Cavan/Monaghan ETB hosted a closing celebration event for the €5m, PEACE IV funded, Journeys project on 27 August 2021.
The project was supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, under the Children and Young People objective, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Ireland. The programme aimed to enhance the capacity of young people, promote diversity and develop effective relationships to impact community and build a cohesive society. Economy Minister Gordon Lyons stated: “The Journeys 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. As we emerge from the lockdown restrictions, it is vital that we support our young people, and through the Journeys project, Springboard have shown great commitment in doing so.”
Minister O’Gorman, from the Department of Children, Equality, Diversity and Youth commented: “The young people who have participated in the Journeys programme over the past 4 years have shown tremendous drive and commitment in achieving what they have. This cross community, cross border programme has made a real and tangible difference in their lives and in their wider communities and it must be commended. I would also like to acknowledge the valuable role played by the youth workers involved in the programme in supporting these young people to achieve their potential.”
Congratulating the project on its success, Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive with the SEUPB said: “As a result of our shared past many of our young people are still raised in divided communities in which they have few opportunities to mix with and learn about different cultures and religions. This only serves to stifle their personal development and contributes to a cycle of mistrust and suspicion within our society. EU PEACE IV funded projects like Journeys are helping to break this cycle by giving many young people the confidence, space and encouragement they need to respect diversity and difference. Demonstrating real dedication and determination, I watched how, during the worst of the pandemic Journeys project staff quickly adapted; moving project delivery online to ensure that all of the young people were supported through such an incredibly difficult time,” she continued.
Throughout the four-year ‘Journey’, young people had life changing experiences by meeting new people from a range of different backgrounds and exploring diversity in a safe environment. Confidence was built through tailored workshops and supportive mentoring, while exploring a range of cultures was highlighted as an area of transformation for young people. Young people also participated in ‘giving back’ to the community including volunteering at homeless shelters, raising awareness for Mental Health, participating in Pride march and Darkness into light. Throughout the challenges of COVID-19, the programme continued using creative and innovative ways to engage young people online. Many of the young people reflected how this helped structure their day, allowed access to support, provided a focus on something worthwhile and offered a sense of belonging during such uncertain circumstances.
After completing the programme, young people were supported into the next step of their ‘Journey’. Over six months, they had opportunities to flourish in a supportive environment and had transformative experiences, resulting in 100% of participants recommending the programme. Speaking at the event Executive Director of Springboard Opportunities, Angila Chada, commented: “The Journeys project has allowed the opportunity for over 800 young people to engage in experiential learning resulting in transformative impact. Not only in their own lives, but it has produced ripples of change for family members and the wider community. Young people have grown in confidence, explored diversity and had opportunities to positively contribute to society. As they continued to build upon their wellbeing and self-worth, they were reinvigorated in creating their pathway in life. This impact will live long after the project end.”
By the end of the programme 2020:
· 94% were happy with their confidence;
· 96% found it easy to respect someone from a different background;
· 91% were happy to work as part of a team, solve problems with friends/family/ community;
· 81% progressed on to further education, employment or training;
· 96% said that it made a major positive impact on their life;
· 100% said they would recommend the programme;
· 436 accredited qualifications facilitated in years 1-3.
Journeys Participants and Family Statements
“The last 6 months how much I’ve changed is outstanding. I’m a much positive and happier individual setting myself more challenges every day. I got to explore myself a lot more and pushed a lot more out of my comfort zones. Thanks for making this a memory I won’t forget.”
“My son done Gamechanger. He really enjoyed it. It gave him something to focus on during COVID-19 lockdown. He has done programmes with other organisations and never completed them, but he really benefited from Springboard the staff were very supportive of him he gained structure and routine is now exploring training and employment.” Participants Mum
“I just realised how I haven’t felt as depressed or angry since doing all the stuff we have been doing. It’s made when you’re helping other people you get over yourself”
“I now feel I have skills like listening to people, understanding other people’s point of view and how to respect everyone. I have new friends I know I’ll have for life now which is exactly what I wanted on the programme.”