Three of Northern Ireland’s ministers have visited a new, innovative youth space in Belfast, as it aims to support children and young people.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, Health Minister Robin Swann, and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons went to the site, which stemmed from a £1.78 million project to house two children’s charities
Robin Swann, Health Minister, said:
“The creation of Northern Ireland’s first purpose-built space for care-experienced children and young people is a significant achievement. I have no doubt that it will become a thriving hub for participation, training, personal development, peer support, capacity building and so much more.
“This project is an excellent example of collaborative working across the voluntary, statutory and private sectors and of what can be achieved when we work together. I congratulate everyone who has been involved – particularly those children and young people who have contributed to the design of the premises.”
Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC) and Include Youth acquired the site in 2016, with completion being reached thanks to government funding. The Department for Communities allocated £549,222 to the project, whilst £376,000 and £20,000 were handed over by the Department of Health and the Department for Economy respectively. This funding allowed the charities to redevelop the building, a former industrial warehouse, and create a new space that will increase collaboration and partnership between the two charities, as well as reducing running costs and protecting the individual identities of the two organisations.
Communities Minister Hargey added:
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate not only VOYPIC and Include Youth but also the young people who were involved in the design of this new facility for their commitment to getting the project over the line.
“I am delighted that my department has been able to provide £549,222 funding towards this innovative project creating an iconic, fit for purpose space dedicated to children and young people with experience of living in care.
“This new centre will help transform how VVOYPIC and Include Youth deliver their vital services through youth-based activities and will also have a positive impact on targeting social need through the social, economic and physical regeneration Belfast.”
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said:
“This customised youth space has been coproduced with children and young people, making it a collaborative project that will deliver autonomy and tailored support for those who need it most.
“Today’s children and young people are tomorrow’s adults which will drive our economy and societal wellbeing. It’s widely acknowledged that early intervention and support programmes like those which will be delivered in this unique centre have a transformative impact on the future outcomes of children and young people. I would like t wish VOYPIC and Include Youth every success in their new youth space.”