Children as young as 14 have used a mediation service set up in Derry to resolve the threat of violence from vigilante and paramilitary groups.
The Time2Choose Project, established by Rosemount Resource centre last June, had its official launch yesterday.
Partly funded by almost £200,000 from the International Fund for Ireland, the project provides specialist mediation and intervention services to those under threat, their families and the wider community.
It is specifically aimed at ‘at risk’ young people who feel they can not engage with existing agencies. Project coordinator John Donnelly said the scheme has so far seen around 60 cases - 90% of which met with a successful outcome.
“The sad reality is that people as young as 14 years old are being embroiled in complex and dangerous situations that expose them to all forms of risk including drugs, violence and intimidation.
“This project is about supporting people to take control of their situation and providing critical interventions that can resolve difficult issues with positive solutions that are agreeable for communities and statutory authorities.
“In our first three months, more than 60 people have asked Time2Choose for our assistance because, for whatever reason, they are unable to seek support from authorities and simply don’t know where else to go.
“We deal with all forms of risk – including mediating between young people and any agency believed to be making threats. To date, the project has been successful in resolving 90 per cent of the cases referred to us.”
He said the project will continue to speak to “anyone if it stops some young person or child dying.”
Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, whose Peace Impact Programme has supplied £188,926 to the Derry initiative, said Time2Choose delivered an innovative approach to “sensitive and contentious issues.”
He said the project can “generate greater momentum for positive change and deliver stability and prosperity.”
“Time2Choose is attempting to deal with a number of very complex and challenging issues. Some of which, statutory authorities and political representatives are unable to fully address. This is an important project that brings critical support and opportunities to marginalised individuals and groups who remain disconnected from government interventions,” he said.
More info online at www.rosemountresourcecentre.co.uk