‘United For Change’

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Northern Ireland Youth Forum’s ‘United for Change’ participants fly high!

19 participants successfully completed NIYF’s ‘United For Change (UFC) programme on the 31st March 2016.  This United Youth Pilot programme is a key commitment in the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ strategy. The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) lead on the implementation of United Youth on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive.

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The 19 participants who come from Antrim and Newtownabbey took part in an 8 month full time programme which began in August 2015.  The purpose of the programme was to focus on four key United Youth outcome areas – personal development, good relations, citizenship and employability – but central to all of them is a positive, youth-centred, youth-development approach.  The participants took part in a diverse range of innovative activities including cutting edge group work, an accredited university programme, international travel to Poland and Germany, work placements and experiential learning days to name but a few.

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry, who launched NIYF’s UFC programme at Jordanstown campus, said ‘I am delighted to be able to help launch this cross-community initiative. United for Change is one of 13 United Youth pilots that are running across Northern Ireland from now until the end of March 2016, offering around 360 places to young people. United Youth is all about providing flexible, high-quality, young-person-centred opportunities to 16–24 year olds who are not currently in education, employment or training.’

Phil Glennon coordinator for ‘UFC’ stated that this programme “aimed to make a major impact to the lives of unemployed and educationally disengaged young people by offering not only the chance of university study but also one to one mentoring, peer leadership training, overseas experiences and good relations training.  Participants have accessed a wide range of learning opportunities including a full taste of university life.  This programme has inspired, created change and left a legacy with participants for the future. They have also been supported by a very experienced and energetic youth work team”.

Not only did the participants produce an invaluable pamphlet on UFC which gives some insight and participant case studies which explores their lives prior to engagement, it also demonstrates the ‘distance travelled’ by participants in terms of personal change, learning and development that took place.  Participants also took part in the production of a small film which showcases the programme and gives some insight into the programme.

Shannon Adams, 19, from Monkstown said she has learned so much about herself, adding: “The youth workers have been amazing and offer you so much support.  I have enjoyed university and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.  I also have made good friends and hope to keep the friendships when the programme is over.  I have now gained employment as a result of this programme and hope to go to university as well.  I also now have the confidence to go interviews and work with other people.  This programme has been life changing”.

Ulster University’s Dr Jonny Byrne said: “United for Change offers an exciting opportunity for young people who may not have previously considered attending university to study some of the issues that affect them. They have explored some of our local political, historical and sociological issues as well as the legacy of peace building in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, through Ulster University’s accredited CPD framework participants also have the opportunity to earn tariff points to supplement entry to Ulster University for further studies.”

Click the link to watch video:

‘United For Change (UFC) 2015’

Natalie Corbett, the full-time youth worker for the United For Change programme said: “It’s been amazing to watch young people engage, participate and go through a personal journey. The young people have been students at Ulster University and many of them never thought this would be achievable. I feel privileged to have worked on this programme and believe that this experience has empowered young people and left a legacy in their local communities.”

United for Change

To read more about the programme click the file below:

United for Change

For more information on United For Change please contact Phil Glennon philipg@niyf.org, 02890 331990.