Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gary Middleton have hailed the life-changing impact community-led health, educational and training projects are making in Urban Village areas.
The Junior Ministers were speaking after visiting two Executive Office-supported community initiatives in north and west Belfast, where they presented project participants with certificates of achievement.
Ministers visited Footprints Women’s Centre in the Colin Urban Village area, where they heard about the work of Youth Action NI collaborating with Footprints to deliver the OUR Generation project as part of the Girlz Utd programme, to young girls from the area.
The programme involved girls aged 11-14 years participating in the ‘Life Maps’ mental health and wellbeing programme, as well as undertaking training in podcasts and social media.
As part of the Urban Villages Connected Futures Project, Junior Ministers also attended a celebratory event at Flax Day Centre in Ardoyne, where they presented certificates to women from different community backgrounds who have overcome adversity to gain Level One Care Assistance qualifications and take steps towards securing employment.
Junior Minister Declan Kearney said:
“It was a real pleasure to be able to take part in these celebration events and hear first-hand about the positive impact these health, educational and training projects are having on people’s lives.
“The young girls at Footprints have evidently grown in confidence and skill through this fantastic programme. And it was great to hear about the positive impact it has had on their mental health and wellbeing.
“The women at the Connected Futures Project have taken the first step into adult education and in doing so opened the door to getting into employment within the care home industry, and I wish them every success for the future.
“It was fantastic to see the way this programme has brought women from different community backgrounds together and allowed them not only to train together, but to make new and lasting friendships.
“Initiatives such as these not only improve the lives of the individuals involved, but also have a positive impact on the lives of their families and the wider community.”
Junior Minister Gary Middleton said:
“The collaboration between the OUR Generation and Girlz Utd programmes in the Footprints Centre is a fantastic initiative.
“It was great to hear from the participants on what they have achieved and the positive impact the programme has had on their lives, and I look forward to seeing more of how the OUR Generation cross-cutting programme is contributing to young lives across all of the Urban Villages areas.
“The women who have taken part in the Connected Futures Project have not only overcome challenges in their own lives they have invested in one another through this programme.
“And because of that, they have improved their own life opportunities while building better relationships across the North Belfast Urban Village area.
“My congratulations go to all involved with these fantastic life-changing projects.”
Notes to editors:
1. Photo caption 1 – Urban Villages Footprints Youth Action – Junior Minister Declan Kearney and Junior Minister Gary Middleton congratulate girls who completed the OUR Generation/Girlz Utd programme at Footprints Women’s Centre in the Colin Urban Village area.
2. Photo caption 2 – Urban Villages Flax Centre – Junior Minister Declan Kearney and Junior Minister Gary Middleton present certificates of achievement to women who gained Level One Care Assistance qualifications through the Urban Villages Connected Futures Project.
3. The Urban Villages Initiative is a key action within the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ Strategy. It is designed to improve good relations outcomes and to help develop thriving places where there has previously been a history of deprivation and community tension
4. There are five Urban Village Areas, as follows:
- Derry~Londonderry: Bogside, Fountain & Bishop Street.
- South Belfast: Sandy Row, Donegall Pass & the Markets.
- North Belfast: Ardoyne & Greater Ballysillan.
- East Belfast: Newtownards Road, Grampian Avenue to Bridge End.
- West Belfast: Colin Area.
5. OUR Generation is a PEACE IV project managed by SEUPB and led by Action Mental Health. The programme is match funded by The Executive Office and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
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