£1.8m secured for Year of Youth

Some of the youth who got involved with the European Youth Capital project.
Some of the youth who got involved with the European Youth Capital project.
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A total of £1.8m has been secured towards a new, year-long Year of Youth programme for young people in Derry & Strabane.

The Council has decided to press ahead with plans to organise a series of events and projects during 2019, despite losing out to Novi Sad in Serbia for the title of European Youth Capital.

For 2019, plans include ‘Emotional Resilience & Addiction’ initiatives, youth street art, a Body Image Programme, and the setting up of a Youth Council and a Youth Manifesto, as well as a youth small grants programme.

Others include a cross-border youth exchange, democracy education through sport for young females and ethnic minorities, work experience and apprenticeships, social justice through cultural pathways, Take Over events, an International Youth Conference, and a Kick the Dust heritage programme.

Speaking at the March meeting of the Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday, Oonagh McGillion, the Council’s Director of Legacy, said the purpose of the year was “to celebrate youth culture and to embed key strategic issues for young people within the Community Plan.”

Ms McGillion, who has also led the EYC bid, said that young people would be deeply involved in shaping the programme.

Young people from all areas of the city and district will be invited to nominate themselves onto subcommittees within a new Year of Youth Forum.

The branding for the year is currently being developed, while plans are also progressing to extend youth ‘Take Over’ events during 2019.

One Take Over project already earmarked for August 2017 involves youths designing their own Fire Festival.

Young people are also keen to stage a take over at the Nerve Centre, Ms. McGillion said.

Ms McGillion said around £1m has been secured via the Peace IV programme, while a further £500,000 has been secured from in year savings within the Council’s own budget.

She said that it was hoped a further £500,000 could be added to this from loan and capital charge savings over the coming year.

Cross-border funding of £300,000 has also been secured, while a bid for £500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been submitted. A number of other funding avenues are also being explored.

The operational cost for the project, Ms McGillion said, will be around £530,000, with recruitment for operational and management structures expected to be approved over the coming weeks.

Proposing the Council endorse the plans, Sinn Fein Councillor Colly Kelly acknowledged the work of newly elected Foyle MLA Elisha McCallion during her time as Mayor and a Councillor to promote and campaign for youth provision and inclusion.

He said he hoped the representation of young people in the project “will be as broad as possible”.

Seconding the proposal, Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly congratulated all the young people involved in getting the project to this stage, adding: “It is encouraging that young people seem to be at the heart of this process.”

SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney agreed, saying: “I’m happy to see a lot of this planning is to involve young people. It is also important we engage with youth workers. I believe in this city we have some of the best youth workers about.”

UUP Councillor Derek Hussey said it was “great to see concrete proposals coming forward”.

DUP Councillor David Ramsey also welcomed the report. He said: “we all know how difficult it is to keep teenagers engaged.

“If we had just dropped this after the bid it would have been disastrous for this area,” he added.