‘Our Lives, Our Legacy’ Gives Youths a Positive Future


Young people from a Belfast based youth project have shared the positive legacy they want to convey to future generations through ‘Our Lives, Our Legacy’ showcase.


The event was organised by Directions, a part of community organisation Springboard Opportunities and it is funded though the International Fund for Ireland (IFI)’s Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP).

Many of the young people involved with Directions PYDP project come from a range of challenging backgrounds including paramilitary recruitment, anti-social activity, dealings with the criminal justice system, substance abuse, poor mental health, and a mistrust of statutory institutions.

The Project supports young people on a range of issues helping them develop life skills that foster good relations, build confidence and resilience, which ultimately makes them more employable.

The event held at New City Life examined themes of cultural identity and how the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland continues to impact young people from disadvantaged communities today. They shared their journey towards a more positive contribution to society as well as the legacy they want to leave behind.

IFI Chairman, Paddy Harte said at the event; “Our PYDP projects provide a uniquely tailored support programme giving young people the means to change the direction of their lives and make a positive contribution to their communities.

“We recognise that the legacy of The Troubles continues to impact many communities. It’s important that we put discussions around identity, ongoing impact, and trauma at the forefront to enable meaningful peace and reconciliation. While substantial progress has been made, recent headlines around flags, bonfires and sectarian behaviour demonstrates that deep divisions still remain. However, I firmly believe that projects such as Directions are transforming young lives to help create a shared society.”

The project is currently working with 16 young people who have completed courses, accreditations, and employment. Through the support of Directions, they have increased self-confidence, emotional resilience and have explored how they can contribute positively to their local communities with the skills they have acquired.

Sam McCaw, Project Coordinator said;

“It has been a privilege to work alongside these young people and to be part of their journey for the past year on Directions. This PYDP project has provided 16 young people from across Belfast with the opportunity to build strong sustainable relationships with one another whilst also impacting positively on their families and communities. 

“PYDP projects are instrumental in creating a space where young people from divided communities can come together & create a shared future. The ‘Our Lives, Our Legacy’ event was an opportunity for the young people to showcase their learning and the impact the programme has had on them.”

Participant ‘Kirsty’s story;

“I’m so thankful for this programme it has given me so many opportunities.”

‘Kirsty’ is a 24-year-old female who grew up in a Unionist community in Bangor. From a young age Kirsty was a habitual substance user who battled to overcome her addiction. She faced a number of challenges as a teenager, presenting as homeless at 17 years old and moving into a supported living site with other young people who were also dealing with complex issues. Kirsty states that this environment seen her addiction escalate and caused her to further get involved in risk- taking behaviours.

Kirsty who has since moved to Belfast came to the Directions programme to build on her self- belief and confidence and make more positive changes in her life. From the outset Kirsty was extremely apprehensive about attending a group with new people and stated that she did not feel capable. However, with support of the Directions team Kirsty pushed herself outside her comfort zone and embraced every opportunity the programme had to offer.  Despite all of the personal challenges she faced Kirsty’s development went from strength to strength and she gained a renewed passion for life. From lacking the confidence to attend the group to successfully achieving her NOCN level 2 in Youth Work, planning and facilitating workshops and even becoming a key member of Springboards Youth Advisory group. Alongside being able to build extensive skills during her time on Directions she also had the opportunity to explore identity and culture and has built long lasting positive relationships with young people in the group from across the political divide.

Kirsty has allowed her potential to grow as she has emerged as a strong leader within the group. Overcoming every challenge along the way, just as she has done throughout her life.

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