10th April, 2019

Hundreds of young people across Northern Ireland and the border counties are celebrating a very special milestone this week with the first birthday of innovative cross-border youth project Third Space.

Since launching last April, the project has helped around 200 young people from across Northern Ireland, Counties Donegal and Cavan and beyond to access life-changing training and employability opportunities, as well as enjoy a wide range of activities aimed at promoting good relations and personal development.

The project is operated by the leading social justice charity Extern, and Verbal, the organisation that promotes the power of the spoken and written word, supported through €3.99m of EU funding under the PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Working with young people aged 14-24, from different communities, cultural, and religious backgrounds, Third Space will operate until 2020. A key focus of the project is to help highly vulnerable young people to:

  • Reduce social isolation
  • Develop a deeper sense of community awareness within their communities
  • Successfully negotiate and manage a programme of personal development for themselves, supported by qualified staff.

Just recently, young people from the project were given the opportunity to tell TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge about the project when the Royal couple visited Extern’s Roscor Youth Village in Co Fermanagh. The site regularly hosts young people from Third Space on overnight stays and gives them the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of personal development activities.

Pictured at the Third Space celebration event in Belfast are (l-r) Angela Graham, Extern, and Geraldine McKenna, Special EU Programmes Body

 

On Tuesday (APRIL 9th), dozens of young graduates were presented with their certificates of achievement at a special graduation ceremony at the Third Space offices on Belfast’s Queen Street. Guests were given the opportunity to share their special memories from the first year, as well as watch an impactful short film made by one of their fellow students about his experience with drug use.

As part of the programme, which is open to young people already on a range of benefits and allowances, participants are offered the opportunity to meet new people, take part in residentials, and participate in shared reading experiences. During each six-month programme, participants also produce personalised videos about a subject of their choice, with challenging topics such as suicide and self-harm, sexuality and drug use already being tackled by some students.

“Building good relations and giving young people a sense of purpose and achievement is absolutely central to the Third Space project,” said Extern CEO Charlie Mack. “Through thousands of hours of engagement over the past year, the dedicated staff from Extern and our partners in Verbal have done a wonderful job in helping hundreds of young people to engage in new areas and enjoy fascinating new experiences. I am so proud of what has been achieved so far and look forward to more years of success for Third Space.”

James Kerr, CEO of Verbal, said: “This is a landmark moment to be celebrating with the young people, staff and our partner Extern. Verbal believes that everyone has a story to tell and that every story matters. Through the commitment and dedication of the young people to this programme they have grasped the opportunity in a safe space to learn the lifelong skills of storytelling as well as ensure that that those stories are shared with and heard by others.

“Using literature and storytelling Third Space has enabled young people to self-reflect, grow and develop. This is a very special project and I am very excited to see and listen to all the future stories that the young people will produce.”

Recognising the importance of the project, Gina McIntyre CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “The EU’s PEACE IV Programme recognises that many of our young people feel that they are excluded from society, and is therefore providing a significant amount of funding to help them meet their personal challenges. I have seen at first-hand how this project is making a positive difference to the lives of young people, on both sides of the border, and talked to many young people who have become more resilient as a result of it.

“It is also giving the participants the confidence to meet and learn from someone of a different religion or culture. This is one of the core objectives of the PEACE IV Programme, which is helping to build a more cohesive and peaceful society. I respect and admire the young people who have been involved in this project.”


Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

 

Extern and Verbal are now urging other young people who may interested to come forward and consider taking part in the programme. For further details on how to apply, visit www.extern.org, email [email protected] or call Extern on, tel: 028 9084 0555 or Verbal on tel: 028 7126 6946.