Major funding boost for Derry youth project

Mark Roberts, manager Liberty Consortium, at the allotments. (2111PG20)
Mark Roberts, manager Liberty Consortium, at the allotments. (2111PG20)

A £600,000 grant has been secured to help young Derry people with learning disabilities increase skills and become business entrepreneurs.

The funding has been allocated by the Big Lottery for a new Liberty Consortium initiative in the city.

The Consortium will now develop the Accessing Citizenship and Training (ACT) project, which involves a range of social and training opportunities for young people aged between 16 and 23.

The four year project, funded under the Empowering Young People programme, has been developed with ideas from the young people and their parents, and learning from previous projects.

The project is also further developing the unique partnership Liberty Consortium has with the Sooty Olive restaurant in Derry. The group already provides the restaurant with produce grown at their Playtrail site and thanks to the Big Lottery Fund grant the partnership will be extended. Sooty Olive owner and chef Sean Harrigan will continue to use produce from the project and allow the young people to sample the end product.

The young people will build their skills by taking part in Cook It sessions and it’s hoped they’ll eventually sell the produce at local markets and help develop the group’s social enterprise activities.

Project Manager Anne-Marie Donnelly said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive the funding as it will take the work and support we offer our young people to a whole new level. We will be offering a wraparound service looking at skills that young people will need when they make the transition from school to adult life. Each young person will get to decide their own programme of support, which will help them gain independence and feel part of the wider community.”

Emma O’Kane (20) who will take part in the new project said: “I liked to be able to say what I wanted on the new project and to give my opinion. I feel really excited about starting the project.”