A major project supporting groups across Northern Ireland to transform their local communities has been awarded a grant of £1.06 million from the Big Lottery Fund.
The Young Foundation has been awarded the money to develop the Amplify project. Amplify will bring people, groups and organisations together to tackle problems in their communities.
The four-year programme will support local people to develop projects to address a range of issues including youth unemployment, isolation and poverty among older people and people facing inequality such as black and minority ethnic groups.
The project is working across Northern Ireland with a particular focus on Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Enniskillen.
Amplify will also offer a four-month Accelerator programme to support people and groups to develop their ideas and connect them to each other. It includes expert tutoring, mentoring and other support to develop their projects. After groups finish the Accelerator process they will be supported to get funding to deliver their projects.
Gorka Espiau, the Director of Innovation for Cities and Regions at the Young Foundation said Amplify is using a social innovation approach to encourage new solutions to transform communities.
“Local people are the experts in the issues that need to be tackled in communities – but they cannot fix everything by themselves and need to be supported to work with others to lead this change…Amplify will create a platform of collaboration where local people, groups and organisations in the private, VCS and public sectors can work together to create projects to try to address those problems.
“This way of working is particularly relevant in the context of the cuts, because VCS groups and the public sector have fewer resources to provide support and services. We need an alternative way of tackling these issues. The only way you can do this is by working differently in a collaborative way and developing local people and groups to work with others.”
Young People Leading Change is one the groups Amplify are already supporting through their pilot work in Northern Ireland.
“It is a great privilege to be working with our YF colleagues and partners in Northern Ireland. We know from our work in the last year that there is huge potential for building a new social innovation platform which captures the enthusiasm, creativity and entrepreneurism of the communities in Belfast Londonderry/Derry and Eniskillen. This way of bringing together the voluntary sector, public bodies and traditional business has the potential to generate a new culture of equality driven long term public/private partnerships. Thank you to Big Lottery Fund for making this work possible for the next four years. Watch this space!”
Glenys Thornton, CEO of The Young Foundation
Liam McCusker (31) formed Young People Leading Change two years ago with Maeve Grimley. The youth-led charity supports young people who want to create a better Northern Ireland. They have over 75 trained youth adult facilitators delivering sessions in a number of schools and youth clubs across Northern Ireland around challenging topics including sectarianism, racism and sexuality.
Mr McCusker said: “We are trying to provide meaningful opportunities for young people in Northern Ireland to meet each other and learn from each other. As a society we don’t have enough of that. That’s why we have joint teams of young people working together to go into schools and young groups and facilitate discussions about a range of topics, including some that are often ignored. It’s about encouraging young people’s confidence and skills as well.”
Liam said being involved in the Amplify pilot project had helped Young People Leading Change to develop as an organisation.
“We did a four week course earlier this year with Amplify that really pushed us to think about what we want to do, how we are going to do it and how to explain that to people. It really sharpened our focus. We also did a one day course with Amplify around financial projection, which was a really helpful starting point for us.”
Liam added: “It was great to go through the Amplify courses and meet others who are similar positions. We have made good contacts with other groups working with young people and we are exploring what we could do together in future.”
Big Lottery Fund NI Director Joanne McDowell said:
“We are delighted to announce this grant to the Young Foundation to deliver the Amplify project. Our new strategic plan is putting people in the lead to make the changes they want in their communities. We hope this project will support local people and groups to work together to create new solutions to the issues they face.”