YouthWorks Youth Strategy: by 67Um7Azx


									YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

Liam McStravick
Copius Consulting
North City Business Centre
2 Duncairn Gardens
BT15 2GG

Community Relations Council
Glendinning House
6 Murray Street
Tel:028 9022 7500

Bebhinn McKinley
Policy Development Officer

    "Promoting a peaceful and fair society based on reconciliation and mutual trust.

           Community Relations Council
                        Formal Response
5 Year North Belfast Wide Youth Strategy

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

The Community Relations Council was formed in January 1990 as an
independent company and registered charity. It originated in 1986 as a proposal
of a research report commissioned by the NI Standing Advisory Committee on
Human Rights. The Community Relations Council was set up to promote
better community relations between Protestants and Catholics in Northern
Ireland and, equally, to promote recognition of cultural diversity.

Its strategic aim is to:
“promote a peaceful, inclusive, prosperous, stable and fair society founded on
the achievement of reconciliation, equality, co-operation, respect, mutual trust
and good relations.”

The Community Relations Council leads and supports change to achieve this
vision by –

          Identifying and developing new and effective approaches to peace-
           building and reconciliation in partnership with people, organisations and
          Promoting the adoption of good relations policies and practice at local,
           community and institutional level
          Assisting communities and institutions in working through and beyond the
           legacies of the Troubles
          Managing the grant making and other services of the Council in an
           effective, efficient and economical way
          Ensuring that Council members and staff have sufficient capacity to
           deliver the corporate objectives

Funding of youth services in North Belfast

CRC considers that Youth Work has a key role to play in helping to deliver a
shared future. ‘The youth sector, has an important role to play in developing
coherent programmes to promote good relationships between children and
young people, within and between communities’1 It has positively contributed to

    A Shared Future, 2.4.12

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

the development of young people within a divided society. CRC acknowledges
the important work carried out by the youth sector, both statutory and voluntary,
in terms of promoting participation of young people in society as active citizens,
challenging prejudices and developing programmes and activities that build
tolerance and open-mindedness. It is crucial that this work continues, and
Council wants to see community relations and good relations as a core part of
this work.

The principle’s of the Community Relations Council, ‘Equity, Diversity and
Interdependence’, are very much a core part of the youth service and youth work
and the rhetoric and principles of a shared future are embedded within a number
of policies. The YouthWork’s strategy’s vision should compliment the Strategy
for The Delivery of Youth Work In NI 2005-2008 and seek to ensure that young
people are able to ‘participate as active citizens in a secure and peaceful society’
and one of the objectives of the strategy is to ‘encourage understanding of
diverse groups in society and the involvement of young people in peace building
and conflict transformation.’2 CRC would also suggest that in the process of
developing the youth strategy, YouthWorks should dovetail with the vision of the
Children and Young People’s 10 year strategy; within this strategy are a number
of pledges including ‘….we will ensure that our children and young people are
supported to grow together in a shared, inclusive society where they respect
diversity and difference’3. Unfortunately there has been no further development
to date on the publication of the plan. CRC is also concerned that within the
current Programme for Government the level of investment in Youth and
Community Relations is set to decrease by -£1.4 million over the next 4 years.
This would perhaps be of a lesser concern if community relations were a
mainstreamed commitment within the broader Department of Education Budget.
As it is currently written, however, there is no mention of peace and reconciliation
objectives that would convince CRC that the reduction in investment to Youth

    Strategy for the Delivery of Youth Work in NI 2005-2008. Appendix 2.
    Children and Young People’s 10 year Strategy, page 17.

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

and Community Relations is justified. We would suggest that the strategy
contains a lobbying campaign to ensure that Youth and Community Relations are
properly resourced via the relevant departments. We would also that it is vital to
encourage the involvement of young people in developing and taking part in this

Participation of young people in decision – making.

A study by Coombe4 found that young people had real and genuine enthusiasm
for taking part in decision making processes specifically at a local, grass roots
level. The key areas that young people considered their main issues of concern
included crime, personal safety, education, facilities for young people and
housing. The report found that 90% of young people in England and Wales
indicated that involving young people was important to their authority and that
they had increased the amount of work they had done to involve young people
over the past four years. Some of the solutions adopted to create an
environment where young people can become engaged in democracy include:

    • Establishing youth forums and councils;

    • Consultations with groups of young people, along with youth conferences;

    • Peer based research techniques such as training young people in a range of
    research skills and using them to conduct research to determine young
    people’s views on their area

CRC believes that there is a direct need for real engagement with young people
at all levels of decision-making in line with UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child and to ensure that young people are involved in all decisions and the
decision - making process that affects them, e.g. consultations etc. This would
also build confidence and develop young leaders for the future. We would

 Coombe, V (2002) Up for it: Getting young people involved in local government. England, Institute for
Public Policy Research Foundation.

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

recommend that in developing this Youth Strategy, YouthWorks should involve
young people throughout the development of this Strategy and encourage them
to take an active role in consulting with the wider community and in monitoring
and evaluating the impact of this strategy over the proceeding years.

Youth programming and quality assurance

The Community Relations Council recognises that for much of the time
community and good relations work is a matter of experimentation. Mainstream
experimenting must continue in order find out what works well and also to
recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not exist. This then should be
acknowledged within the strategy, with different programmes and engagement
strategies being directed at different age groups, areas etc. CRC also notes that
good practice exists within both the statutory and the voluntary sector and it is
crucial that mapping occurs to identify these models. It needs to take place on
an area based model and should be on a cross sector and cross community
basis. Therefore we would suggest that in developing this strategy YouthWorks
looks to other cases of best practice and includes within their strategy a
commitment to sharing their own experience with similar organsiations.

CRC also asserts that there is a need to define more widely the training needs of
youth workers who are still unsure or anxious about tackling the difficult
questions within a divided society. Additionally, it is vital that youth workers be
trained in delivering community relations and good relations training,
programmes and activities.

Further CRC would suggest that robust monitoring and evaluation is required for
all strategies and it is important that clear indicators are established against
which to measure progress. Again we would advocate that young people from
the area are involved in developing these and rolling out the strategy.

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

CRC recommends that specific programmes are put in place to explore and
initiate dialogues on the issue of violence affecting youth and youth violence
across communities. These should be delivered in conjunction with interface co-
ordinators and local community youth workers. It would also be important that
these programmes are in effect during peak seasons of rioting and communal

Key issues facing young people in North Belfast

In 1990 Desmond Bell produced a study ‘Acts of Union: Youth Culture and
Sectarianism in Northern Ireland. He highlighted that within Northern Ireland,
throughout the generations youth cultural practices often sustained a sectarian
‘tradition’ and therefore instead of with young people challenging tradition in
Northern Ireland they became the guardians of that community tradition. CRC
therefore would suggest that the YouthWorks strategy incorporates as a priority
the need to explore cultural practices, traditions and rituals and various
communal perspectives relating to these.

The ‘Breaking Down Barriers: Exclusion of Disadvantaged Young People’ from
Northern Ireland Society report produced by Professor Hargie, Dr Dickson and
Dr. Aodheen O’Donnell, which was funded through CRC reached several
conclusions relating to issues for young people in Northern Ireland. These

      Barriers to employment:
The research found that whilst young people desired to gain employment “young
people from interface areas in Belfast, barriers coming between them and stable
employment took economic, educational, social and even physical forms.” (p.9)
There was also a reluctance to enter a workplace perceived as belonging to one
particular group. In conjunction with this was also a fear of attacks based on

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

ethno-religious background. A further finding also included the lure of criminality
that existed within these areas.

      Unemployment and social exclusion:
The report also highlighted that there was a direct link between social exclusion
and sectarianism and therefore young people were often marginalized if they
didn’t belong to a certain community group. An inextricable link between
unemployment and social exclusion was also suggested from perspective of
employers, training provides and community leaders. However for Young people
social exclusion was more commonly associated and linked to social isolation.
The report had also found that within the North Belfast area there was a
normality of unemployment, with many young people not feeling excluded due to
fact they were unemployed as many of their peers were likewise not in
employment. Sectarianism and relationships within the workplace was also
highlighted as a key contributing factor in preventing young people from
attempting to access employment outside of their areas.

      The ‘Bubble Syndrome’:
Here the reports notes “that many young people brought up and living in Belfast’s
interfaces not only do not wish to cross interfaces to take up work in outgroup
areas, but do not wish to take up employment anywhere outside what they
perceive to be their own neighbourhood, or their ‘bubble’. The bubble syndrome
not only leads to fear of going to a different area, but also to making the
conscious decision to stay within one’s own carefully defined zone of comfort and
safety. It denotes a mindset of insularity and reduced horizons. (p.10)

There is a need then that this strategy takes due consideration of those issues
outlined above and engages effectively with ensuring that as part of this youth
strategy programmes are put in place to address the fears of young people of
workplace sectarianism, perhaps developing an outreach programme with

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

employers throughout the Belfast area and wider and working with young people
in developing employability levels.

Suicide prevention and mental health

The ‘Promoting Mental Health Strategy and Action Plan’ contains specific actions
on the promotion of mental and emotional health of children and young people,
the development of anti-bullying approaches for use in schools, raising
awareness and understanding of mental health issues and reducing the stigma
attached to mental health problems. Following growing concerns about an
increase in the number of suicides, particularly among young males within the
Belfast area, CRC feels that a vital component of this strategy should seek to
develop links with those organsiations such as NIAMH, PIPS and the health
boards and trusts to promote good mental health, and coping with stress for
young people and ensuring that those young people who are affected by a friend
or family member ending their life have proper support mechanisms and


‘Lifetime Opportunities’, government’s Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy
launched, November 2006, retains the key principle of New Targeting Social
Need which is to target resources and effort within programmes at those areas,
groups and individuals in greatest objective need. The ‘Promoting Social
Inclusion’ is an approach to working in partnership with relevant sectors to tackle
exclusion of different vulnerable groups such as lone parents. The strategy’s two
overall objectives are: to work towards eliminating poverty and social exclusion in
Northern Ireland by 2020; and to end child poverty by 2020. Many researchers
have made a direct link between the conflict and poverty within Northern Ireland.
This acknowledgement must be reflected in Central and local government policy

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

if policies are to successfully tackle and end poverty. Yet, continuously
government fails to include or indeed even mention that the legacy of the conflict
as a contributing factor to poverty.

Promoting Community Relations and Good Relations among young people:

CRC consider that it is vital that this strategy encourages and includes a priority
focus on community relations and good relations for young people within the
area. We would recommend that young people are given the opportunity to
explore a range of different cultural practices, events and symbols and to
appreciate and respect diversity and difference. That they are encouraged to
engage in dialogues with those outside their perceived community to understand
some of the key historical, political and social developments that have taken
place in Northern Ireland and how the past is linked with the present and how
they are able to shape their future and future of the province.

The National Children’s Bureau 2004 ‘Voices behind the Statistics’ noted that
young people felt that the “media places too much emphasis on the issues of
sectarianism and that stories relating to the Troubles, or community conflict more
generally, is the primary feature of Northern Ireland which is highlighted by the
media. The young people felt that positive stories about cross-community events
were very unlikely to get reported.”5 We would suggest then that perhaps there
is scope within this strategy to develop a cross community programme among
young people in the area to research and produce through a media medium etc
those stories which highlight cross-community activity or evidence improved
community/good relations in the area. As part of this we would also recommend
that this strategy undertake an aggressive and inventive media campaign aimed

 Shirley Ewart, Dirk Schubotz and others. Voices behind the Statistics, National
Children’s Bureau October 2004

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

at young people, made with the help of young people, and this should be
developed and delivered.6

The Young Life and Times survey 2007 established that eight in ten 16 year olds
(81%) surveyed felt that religion will always make a difference to how people in
Northern Ireland feel about each other. While this continues to remain at a high
level, it is a 5% drop from the 2003/2004 findings. For half all respondents family
(50%) was the main influence factor on their views on community relations.
Therefore a core element of this Youth strategy should be focused on designing
innovative ways on sustaining youth involvement and engagement and
developing young people as the tutors and influencers of the family in relation to
community relations views. Of significant importance more than six in ten (63%)
said they would prefer to live in mixed religion neighbourhoods. (YLT 2007).
CRC would emphasis that this is something that should be encouraged and the
strategy should specifically explore how this can promoted and developed.

CRC also asserts that it is vital that young people in interface areas need
investment and policy changes, in moving towards reconciliation it is vital that
young people from both sides are afforded the opportunity to meet and discuss
key community relation issues. The role of both children and young people
involved and links with paramilitaries needs to be urgently addressed. Further
their roles both as perpetrators and victims needs to be acknowledged. We
would also put forward that there is a significant necessity that Social Services,
PBNI, Health Boards and all statutory bodies should have a specific remit to
engage and work with young people and this needs to be developed further.

Young people dealing with the past and legacy of the conflict.

In the ‘Poverty and Social Exclusion NI’ survey, half of all household respondents
said they knew someone who had been killed in the conflict. (Hillyard et al, 2005)

    Recommendation within Sharing over Separation- Actions towards a Shared Future 2006, NICRC

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

The legacy of the conflict and issues of dealing with the past extend far beyond
killings as a consequence of the conflict. Indeed many young people throughout
Northern Ireland and in particular North Belfast have witnessed violent incidents
and atrocities, have been forced to leave their area, become dispersed and
There is a strong link between the experience of the conflict and experience of
young people being fearful of going outside their ‘safe areas.’

Goretti Horgan’s paper in 2005 titled ‘The particular circumstances of children in
Northern Ireland’ highlighted that:

Between 1969 and 2003 as a result of political conflict in Northern Ireland:
• 274 children ages 17 and under died;
• 629 young people ages 18 to 21 lost their lives
• The18 to 23 age group suffered the highest number of deaths;
• 36% of all those killed were children and young people
• More than half of all those killed were 29 years and under;
• Over 90% of those killed were young men;
• Almost three quarters of children under the age of 18 killed in the Troubles have
been Catholic, a fifth were Protestant, and the remaining 6% were from outside
Northern Ireland;
• Almost half (48%) of all deaths of those 21 were concentrated in Belfast, North
and West Belfast in particular. A further 9% of deaths under 21 were in Derry-
Londonderry, with other concentrations in the border counties.
(Smyth et al, 2004)

The stark findings of this paper reinforces the need to ensure that young people
within our society have the opportunity to be part of the process of
acknowledging and dealing with the past, remembering those that have been lost
as a result of the conflict and be a central part of the process of reconciliation.
Further, there is a need to ensure that our young people and children are
afforded the necessary resources and support to come to terms with the effect of

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

the conflict on them as children and in terms of their development but also
perhaps if they were not directly effected, being in a family environment were
perhaps one or both parents suffered from mental health illness as a
consequence of the conflict.

Relationship with youth groups in the area.

The Community Relations Council has and will continue to develop opportunities
through Community Relations and Community Development small grant scheme.
This is aimed at generating contact between groups working in interface areas
and in preparation for youth diversionary schemes. Additionally, CRC has
supported the development of learning resources through the publications grant
and produced a brief guide on youth resources. CRC have also supported youth
diversionary schemes, inter-community projects, mobile phone networks, single
identity projects, we have worked with and without people with paramilitary links.
To date CRC have funded specific projects that work directly with youth and
those which have a youth remit. Some key programmes and initiatives which
have been previously supported in District Council’s include Diversionary
Schemes in Newtownabbey Council area, PeaceBuilder Training for young
people in Limavady, a Diversity Training programme for second generation
victims and survivors of the troubles and in Derry Council Football in the
community, and a programme exploring discrimination and human rights. Within
Belfast CRC has also been actively involved in supporting financially etc,
schemes aimed at diversionary activities, multimedia training for participants from
different interface areas, Youth Counselling and Youth Empowerment projects
and programmes aimed at encouraging networking among young people from
marginalized areas influenced by paramilitaries in interface areas of Belfast.
Additionally, CRC is represented on the Youth Council’s JEDI policy steering
group, are board members of and are represented on DENI Community relations
selection panel and core funding groups.

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

Structure of youth service delivery

Community Relations Council previously engaged with a number of key
stakeholders in the youth sector to discuss and identify the main issues for those
involved in the delivery of youth work and community relations, and we hope that
by drawing attention to these issues we may positively contribute to the future of
youth work. In essence Council is not too concerned with the structures required
but moreover that the outcomes will be the real. The Institute of Conflict
Resolution report in 2005 found that a large number of young people:
      “Expressed feelings of anger, frustration and resentment, often blaming the
     environment in which they lived as a reason for their quality of life. There
     was a consensus among all the young people that communities in North
     Belfast suffered from a lack of facilities, resources and investment in
     comparison to other areas in Northern Ireland.”7

CRC would therefore recommend that the this strategy includes an assessment
of needs for young people in the North Belfast area and includes developing links
with external statutory and voluntary organizations that can provide support for
this work.

CRC future role in youth service provision.

CRC considers that their role within the youth service provision should focus on
ensuring that information for groups considering diversionary/youth work is
relayed in a timely and informative format. We are seeking to work towards
developing best practice in terms of both reactive and proactive approaches.
There is also scope to work with teachers and youth leaders to develop their
capacity to deal with these relevant issues. It has also been identified internally

 Young People’s Attitudes and Experiences of Policing, Violence and Community Safety in
North Belfast Jonny Byrne, Mary Conway and Malcolm Ostermeyer ICR June 2005

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

that teachers and youth leaders are often requesting resources from CRC and
there is the potential of working with them in relation to training and practical
resource development. CRC is also currently considering the idea of having a
Youth programme within our own policies and proposals.

Additional Comments

CRC strongly supports the statement made by the Special Representative of the
Secretary General of the United Nations on Children and Armed Conflict, Mr
Olara Otunnu. Following his second visit to Northern Ireland Mr. Otunu urged
        “Following conflict, the prospects of recovery often depend largely on giving
        priority attention to young people in the rebuilding process, rehabilitating
        young people affected by war, and restoring their sense of hope. This issue
        must become a priority. All key actors responsible for developing post-
        conflict peace-building programmes …. should make the rights and
        protection of children a central concern in their planning, programming and
        resource allocation.”

CRC would recommend that in developing their Youth Strategy, YouthWorks
keeps at its core the long term investment that is required for our young people,
the need priorities their role in building towards lasting peace and instilling them
with confidence to take on the roles as future leaders of our society. A society
that is based on understanding, good relations and respect for diversity and

As Community Relations Council Chief Executive Duncan Morrow stated “The
issue is not just stopping the violence; it is actually changing the fundamental
relationships which produce violence. The work after the violence has stopped is
all about sharing.”8 CRC would conclude by recommending that due regard is
taken of this statement and that this youth strategy acknowledges the pivotal role
that young people currently have and will come to have as adults in developing

    YCNI R ShaRd FutR 2006 p.7

YouthWorks: 5Yr North Belfast Wide Strategy: Final

our society and moving towards a peaceful and fair society. Central to ensuring
that this occurs is the acknowledgement that developing relationships between
young people both within and outside their local environment.

Community Relations Council would again take this opportunity to thank
YouthWorks and Copius for consulting with us on this 5yr Belfast Wide Strategy.
We hope that these comments are useful and if you require further information or
support, we will be available as a resource in whatever capacity possibly.


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