21st December, 2017

A first of its kind project for the North-West region has been awarded €1.88m of EU funding under the PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU programmes Body (SEUPB). The project, known as Extern Positive Learning, is working with people who often find themselves on the margins of society, including people who are disadvantaged, who are homeless, who have an offending history, are long-term unemployed, or who are refugees. It aims to improve good relations and enable participants to reintegrate into society.

Adults from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds are being brought together in the programme with a view to improving good relations. Areas explored will include community, prejudices, identity, and diversity. Skills development will also be on offer in order to support participants as they aim to reintegrate into their community.

The Project is being delivered within the Letterkenny, Carndonagh, Buncrana, Limavady and Londonderry/Derry catchment areas. Partners in delivering the new service are The Probation Service Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Prison Service, TIDES Training and Consultancy, The Probation Service Ireland, and the Irish Prison Service.

The project aims to help people explore and change their current perceptions at various stages on their personal journeys. Core areas covered include good relations, citizenship, mentoring, and personal development. Participants will also be offered training activities in new skills to benefit the community, including Electrical, Carpentry, ICT, Horticulture, Manual Handling and Catering, during a 26-week programme.

Commenting on the ‘Extern Positive Learning’ announcement, Charlie Mack, CEO, said:

“Our belief in Extern is that everyone should be enabled to make a positive contribution to their society, so we are thrilled to have received this EU Funding under the PEACE IV Programme, to deliver the ‘Extern Positive Learning’ project in the North-West region.

“In 2018 Extern will have been developing and delivering support services for 40 years, creating safer communities, and allowing vulnerable people and those on the margins of our society to build positive and good relations within their communities. This project will allow us to engage with many people who need support to re-establish their role in the community, including people with an offending history, people who are homeless, people who are disadvantaged, and refugees, and to enable them to make a positive difference to good relations in the Derry/Londonderry and Donegal border areas.

“Placing cross-border partnership working at its core, we are delighted to have the support of our partners in the delivery of this new project. It provides a wonderful learning opportunity for us all, with greater sharing of expertise and models of delivery in each of our organisations, and to ensure excellent service provision to people who need our support in rural and regional areas of the North West.”

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “The activities funded will encourage greater levels of cross-community and cross-border engagement, and understanding between people from diverse groups, including those who may feel most marginalised within our society.

This goes to the heart of the PEACE IV Programme by promoting greater levels of trust and understanding, between communities and on either side of the border, with the objective of making a real difference to peoples’ lives.”
The project, which will be based in the North of Derry/Londonderry, will commence in spring 2018.

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.