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Fermanagh Sports & Cultural Awareness Association (FSCAA)

Fermanagh Sports & Cultural Awareness Association (FSCAA) project officer John Quinn and outreach worker Darrell Law say the Personal Youth Development Programme (PYPD) is giving 16-25 year olds in rural communities a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Intensive one-to-one assistance combined with the opportunity to mix with peers is helping young people in rural areas, who have dropped out of education, training and employment, improve their confidence and skills.

Success, FSCAA say, is measured by the young people turning up to take part in the programme week after week, taking steps forward to learn, gain new skills and on many occasions employment.

IFI funding allows the project to support the young people help themselves to transform their own lives.

Over the last year tutors have been brought in to assist young people with literacy skills, including one young man who had the reading age of a Year 3 child.

“He has improved so much,” Darrell said.

“He has gained maybe 300-400 words he wasn’t aware of before.”

What might seem like small wins to some are life changers for others and make all the hard work of FSCAA and its 20 participants worthwhile.

Bringing people together for a range of activities is key for this group.

Providing accredited training and practical assistance around CV building and job interviews has helped four young people into employment. There have been other countless examples of achievement over the last year.

One young man passed his driving test, another stopped finding himself before the courts as he stopped reoffending and another re-entered education to do a counselling qualification.

The young people have also been introduced to proper nutrition and exercise, plus experts sharing information on drug awareness and mental health issues. Residential trips, good relations work and cross-border activities have all been part of the mix over the last 12 months.

Participants from the project on a trip to Belfast visiting Cupar Way Peace Wall.

Participants pictured with Darrell Law, FSCAA’s outreach worker.

Challenges around alcohol and drug issues, learning difficulties, mental health concerns and involvement in crime remain but the FSCAA team is committed to “supporting the young people in whatever way we can,” John says.

He loves the community aspect of his role, whether it’s with older people, young people, sport, art or IT projects, he can see progress in all areas.

“I very much enjoy working with young people and trying to help them and point them in the right direction. Many of the young people have difficult family backgrounds so they look to us as adults offering a bit of support and stability.”

Darrell too says the reward of his work is engaging the young people directly, “They want to know when they are next in,” he adds.

“That is success to me and John.”

Fourteen of last year’s group have achieved accredited training, they made several industry visits, engaged with entrepreneurs and saw for themselves examples of business people making a success in life through alternative routes to academia.

Personal and social development, gaining knowledge around cultural awareness, race and ethnicity, and peace and reconciliation, is helping improve self-worth while broadening understanding of others.

John and Darrell emphasise the importance of the spectrum of activities that allow the young people to fulfil their potential and how this holistic approach sees confidence levels soar, and in turn skill levels improve.

Talking to peers and building the confidence to interact with others is all part of tackling rural and social isolation among participants including the single parents in the group who have had limited opportunities to spend time with other teens or adults.

John is keen to build on the progress and reach out in ways that suit individuals.

“We are very happy with the IFI funding and the outcomes it is achieving. Some young people are making very small steps but we are successful with them all. We are making a difference to lives and really helping.”

For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.

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