23rd April, 2018

A new cross-border project, Third Space which will transform the lives of 800 children and young people identified as being vulnerable and at risk, is being launched today, Tuesday, 24 April 2018, at the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry/Londonderry.

The project is being launched 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 deliver a rolling personalised self-development and training programme. The project will operate across Northern Ireland, Cavan and Donegal from 2018 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.

As part of the programme, which is open to young people already on a range of benefits and allowances, participants will be offered the opportunity to meet new people, take part in residentials, and participate in shared reading experiences. In addition, they will acquire new skills in video production, and gain a qualification.

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, said:

“This EU PEACE IV funded project will deliver a personalised self-development programme that will positively transform the lives of up to 800 vulnerable young people. By focusing on personal development, citizenship and good relations it will make a real impact on a cross-community and cross-border basis. The project will also open up new opportunities in all those who take part in it by promoting self-esteem and resilience.”

Welcoming the funding from PEACE IV, Charlie Mack, Extern CEO, added:

“This is a wonderful day, and an exciting new partnership for Extern working with our friends at Verbal, made possible through funding from the EU PEACE IV Programme. Third Space is focused on engaging with, and making a meaningful impact in the lives of 800 young people, many of whom are from the most marginalised and disadvantaged parts of this island. We want to work with, support, and make a tangible difference to the lives of young people affected by mental health issues and long-term unemployment, and also those living in interface areas and in rural isolation. This funding will allow us to not only change the lives of those young people, but also to make a positive difference to their families and communities.”

Focusing on the aims of the programme, James Kerr, Director for Verbal, said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Extern on this exciting programme, which we know will bring so much to the lives of the young people involved. Third Space aims to promote positive relations characterised by a respect that we hope will enable a celebration of cultural diversity. Working together across Northern Ireland, and the border regions, we will be supporting young people to live, learn, and socialise together, free from many of the daily pressures they face around prejudice, hate and intolerance. This funding allows us to work together under the banner of the Third Space project to create real impact for young people and we are very excited about the potential it offers.”

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in Ireland.

Referrals for the Third Space rolling programme are welcomed from agencies and organisations working with young people and can be made by contacting the project team at Extern 028 9084 0555 or Verbal 028 7126 6946.