24th July, 2018

Extern, Ireland’s leading social justice charity, today (Tuesday, July 24th) welcomed the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council for a visit to the Positive Learning project in Derry-Londonderry to learn about the organisation’s vital work in the North West region.

Councillor John Boyle (SDLP), who was appointed to the role last month, met with managers and service users at the facility on the outskirts of the city centre, which gives experience of a working environment to people who find themselves on the margins of society, including those who are homeless, long-term unemployed, have refugee status or who may have an offending history.

Participants in the programme - which is supported by the European Union's PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body - are helped with gaining new skills in a wide range of areas to help them to reintegrate into their community, including:

• Information Technology
• Carpentry
• Electrical
• Catering
• Horticulture

Cllr Boyle also met with staff from a range of Extern’s other diverse projects across the NW region, many of which have a strong cross-border ties, as they engage with service users and statutory bodies and agencies from both Northern Ireland the Republic.

These include:

Northern Ireland Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme – a consortium-based project to resettle 2,000 Syrian people who have been displaced by conflict in their home country. Support is provided for housing, health, English language, employability, family reunification, mental health and integration into the local community.

Strength to Strength – an early intervention service to support vulnerable young people and their families through parenting programmes, support plans, away days and residential experiences at Extern’s youth village in Roscor, Co Fermanagh.

Family Support Services - aimed at keeping families together and providing support for young people on the edge of care. Extern helps provide individual counselling, supported engagement activities, parenting support, residential experiences at Roscor, group work, day trips and case work with referring social workers.

Crisis Intervention Service – a new project to provide critical support for individuals experiencing crisis and who may have suicide ideations. The project will have a city centre location in Derry-Londonderry and provide a 24-hour non-clinical response over weekend periods, particularly along the riverfront.

Third Space Programme - provides support to marginalised young people between the ages of 14 and 24. A four-year programme with three broad features including citizenship, good relations and personal development.

Restorative Driver’s Programme - a driver rehabilitation scheme, which aims to change the behaviour of offenders to prevent further infractions. The target audience is drivers aged 17 and over who have been charged with or convicted of a road traffic offence and are looking for the early restoration of their driving licence following a ban exceeding two years.

Chief Executive of Extern Charlie Mack welcomed the Mayor’s visit to the project, saying: “The work we do in this region is incredibly diverse, and with Positive Learning up and running this has now expanded from working mainly with young people to including adults for the first time here as well.

“We are delighted that Cllr Boyle was able to meet with our staff and service users and see at first hand the valuable work we do in helping people turn their lives around, as well as witnessing the growth of our services in the region.

“We look forward to welcoming him back in future.”

Cllr Boyle said he was delighted to see the work being done by Extern to help participants to reintegrate into the community through a series of positive programmes.

“I am very supportive of the work carried out by Extern to give refugees, the long-term unemployed and the homeless an opportunity to learn new skills and reintegrate and engage with their communities,” he said. “By supporting their needs and providing them with the skills to make them independent, Extern is showing them the value they have in society and the important role everyone has to play in our communities.

“The visit to the offices today was very informative and inspiring and I wish everyone taking part in the programmes every success for the future.”