Hackney young people visit Northern Ireland
Young people from Hackney spent a week in Northern Ireland as part of an innovative project that aims to equip young people with the skills to better deal with and resolve conflict.
Sixteen young men and women, aged 12-17, spent a week (February 16 to February 20) in Northern Ireland, including a tour of Belfast and the ‘peace walls’, as part of The Edge Youth Hub’s EDGEucation programme, that gives young people the skills to be able to express themselves, ask questions, have difficult conversations with their peers and feel empowered to effect positive change in their communities.
During a series of workshops at the Corrymeela Community, an internationally renowned centre for peace and reconciliation, they met young people from the BOSS Project in Portadown, where young people live with the legacy of sectarian conflict, to share their collective and individual experiences of living with the effects of conflict and violence.
The group were encouraged to be open and honest and explore how conflict within their neighbourhoods, schools and homes can affect them and their communities. Although from different communities and backgrounds, with differing understanding of the nature of localised conflict, the group identified similarities in their experiences and looked to identify coping strategies that can be developed, strengthened and shared with their peers. The group also discussed their strengths and personal attributes, as well as looking at mental health and how they can seek support from those around them.
Hackney is a much safer place to grow up, but we know there are still some young people who will be affected by violent crime and we aim to do all we can to support them.
Through projects like this we can help young people to see the positive effects they can have on their communities, while giving them the skills that can help them better deal with the conflict that can sometimes occur around them.
A meeting with community leaders from all sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland, including Colin McCusker, the mayor of Craigavon, Brid Rogers, SDLP MP and Darryl Hewitt, from the Portadown Orange Order was also on the agenda. This gave the young people a valuable insight into how local communities were affected and what can be done to effect change.
The project also aims to encourage young people to become more involved with their communities and increase their employment opportunities by completing an ASDAN accreditation linked to their participation in the project. ASDAN awards offer programmes and qualifications that provide skills needed for learning, employment and life.
Hackney's reisdent, Jessie Asideu-Boah, 13, said: "This week helped me to build up my confidence"
Felipe Sequeira, 16, from Manor House said: "I love the fact that everyone shared their life stories and that everyone listened to each other."
In August, a group of young people from Portadown will be welcomed to Hackney for the second leg of the exchange.
Young Hackney is working with local partners, Manor House Development Trust, Well London and Genesis Homes on the joint funded exchange.
EDGEucation takes place on Thursday evenings 6.00-8.30 pm, at Young Hackney’s The Edge Youth Hub. Call 020 8356 1063 for more information.