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Fresh ideas to START off the new Assembly

ALMOST 40 young people involved in an employability programme launched a 'Youth Manifesto' on Thursday, asking new and returned MLAs to make a commitment young people.

The 16 to 24 years olds involved in the Give & Take: Start Programme - based in East & South Belfast, Shankill & North Belfast and North Down & Ards - take a regular interest in local politics and felt the new Assembly mandate presented the best time to share their ideas with elected representatives in their constituencies. The young people want action on the following areas:

  • Tackle youth unemployment and create good quality jobs
  • Increase funding for healthcare
  • Access to housing and benefits for those who need them
  • Integrated education and access to community-based training
  • Justice, a shared future and young people having their say
  • Speaking at a celebration event for the 38 young people moving on from the current phase of the programme, Dearbhla Holohan, Give & Take: Start Programme manager at Include Youth said:

    "The young people from across the three programme sites worked together to come up with what they felt were the most important issues they want the new Assembly to take forward.

    "The young people all want to work so it was no surprise the number top issue highlighted by them was the urgency at which government needs to address the high levels of youth unemployment here.

    "In the manifesto they call on government to offer employers greater incentives to provide young people with paid work, ban zero hour contracts and increase investment in community initiatives effectively supporting young people into work."

    Give & Take Start is a 14 week intensive employability and personal development programme supporting young people move into employment, training or education and feel more a part of their community. It is delivered by Include Youth in partnership with NI Alternatives and funded by the European Social Fund and the Department of Employment and Learning.

    Marc Young, one of 14 participants on the programme at the Shankill and North Belfast Alternatives site, said: "The programme combines opportunities to gain qualifications, take part in outdoor and community activities, learn new skills and employability techniques and meet people from other cultures and backgrounds. It was amazing."

    Curtis Nicholl, one of 11 participants on the programme in North Down and Ards, added: "Start has given me the chance to get the Essential Skills that I wasn't able to get in school."

    Finally Matthew Smyth, one of the 13 participants on the programme in the East and South Belfast area, is currently applying for jobs and hopes to gain a place on a course at Belfast Met in September, said: "Start helped me gain qualifications and increase my confidence so I was able to apply for work. It also helped me meet new people from different backgrounds."

    Young people on the programme gained Level 2 Essential Skills qualifications in Maths and English, OCN employability qualifications and as this phase draws to a close many have moved into employment, securing paid work in hospitality and security, or on to a training course.

    Each group also took part in a range of different activities and initiatives including an intergenerational cooking project, volunteering for the Welcome Organisation, tidying up allotments, sports events, mental health and well-being initiatives and lectures about how they can access university.

    The next phase of the Give & Take: Start Programme starts on May 30 2016, if you would like more information contact Dearbhla on 028 9031 1007, Dearbhla@includeyouth.org or like The Start Programme page on Facebook.

    ENDS

    Media Enquiries: For more information contact Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth on 028 9031 1007 or sharon@includeyouth.org