27th February, 2019

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited leading social justice charity Extern today (Wednesday, 27th February) as part of a two day visit to Northern Ireland.

Their Royal Highnesses visited Extern’s Roscor Youth Village, on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, to mark its 21st year.

During their visit, The Duke and Duchess met and chatted to children and young people who are currently being supported by Extern at Roscor Youth Village.

Roscor is a haven of hope, and place of safety, for more than 2,500 children and young people from across the island of Ireland each year. Many come to stay when they are facing challenging situations at home, or in care, and while they are being supported on one of Extern’s programmes. In addition, Roscor also offers an additional 200 children from the Western Health and Social Care Trust access to summer camps each year, so that they can experience a fun-filled holiday break.

While at Roscor, children are given the opportunity to enjoy more than 50 fun water and land-based activities, which act as a conduit for the delivery of life-changing psychological and social care interventions by Extern’s experienced staff.

The Duke and Duchess joined in with the children on a range of the fun activities Roscor offers, including a Canadian raft race on Lough Erne.

Their Royal Highnesses then met several young people who have previously been supported by Extern, and who are still in touch with Roscor, both as volunteers and as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The Duke and Duchess were keen to develop an understanding of the challenges faced by the children who come to stay at Roscor.

They heard from Extern’s staff how the educational and fun activities provided by the charity at Roscor enable them to support children to build much-needed resilience and self-confidence around issues they may be facing in their lives.

The Duke and Duchess were also introduced to Derek McCabe, Chair of Extern, members of Extern staff, Howard Thornton, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and Brendan Hegarty, CEO of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

Speaking about the visit, Charlie Mack, CEO of Extern, said: “We are tremendously honoured to have The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Extern today to learn more about the life-changing work which goes on at our Roscor Youth Village. Childhood should be a safe, happy, and precious time, but unfortunately, when things go wrong at home, or in care, it is often children who feel the brunt. That’s where Roscor makes a difference. While here, children feel safe, and through world-class specialist social care interventions we help them build resilience and empower them to plot a brighter future for themselves.

“Extern applauds the work Their Royal Highnesses are undertaking to raise awareness about the many challenges which children still face in our society today, including around mental health and wellbeing.

“Extern is committed to transforming lives, and here at Roscor, providing children with the opportunity to discover strengths and abilities they never knew they had is a vital part of that vision. It was a joy to see their Royal Highnesses share our vision in their genuine interest and engagement with everyone at Roscor today.”

At the end of their visit a bowl created by the young people was presented to Their Royal Highnesses, along with a posy of flowers.

The Duke and Duchess also helped create a tile to be included in Roscor’s Wall of Hope, a visual centrepiece which contains expressions of hope by children who visit Roscor.

Their Royal Highnesses’ visit also comes during Extern’s 40th year. Since 1978, Extern has grown to become the leading social justice charity across the island of Ireland. Today, Extern has over 80 projects operating out of 40 locations, delivering world-class social care interventions to transform the lives of 20,000 people each year. In addition to its work alongside children, young people and families, Extern also supports people who are homeless, or who are living with homelessness, those dealing with mental health and drug and alcohol issues, those living with the impact of suicide, refugees, the Traveller community and people living with an offending past.

Further information on Extern and Roscor Youth Village is available at www.extern.org