A Maghera-based cross-community group is celebrating after being awarded more than £200,000 by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).
Maghera Cross Community Link has been awarded £203,294 for a two-year extension and expansion of its Link Youth Achievement Project across Maghera, Swatragh, Upperlands, Culnady and Tobermore.
The extension to the cross-community project will support current participants to engage in education and employability activities while also enrolling a new intake of 15 young people in a programme of good relations, personal development and skills and social development activities.
Maghera Cross Community Link is one of 16 organisations across Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland to benefit from the latest round of IFI funding.
The £3.4 million of funding, approved at the organisation’s recent board meeting, includes more than £2.3m for 10 projects within the Personal Youth Development Programme.
Such initiatives, including the one run by Maghera Cross Community Link, support vulnerable young people to reengage in training and learning activities and reduce the risk of being drawn into violence, crime and addiction.
Welcoming the funding announcement, the Chairperson of Maghera Cross Community Link, Ruth Watterson said: “We have just completed the first year of the project. 14 young people have between them acquired 96 qualifications and they are now coming back to start the second year of the project. We are also now in a position to recruit 15 more young people to start the project and hopefully they can attain similar success.
“We would like to thank the Rural Development Council and IFI for this funding. It will have a great impact on these young people and the local community.”
Anyone aged 16 - 25 wanting to find out more about the Link Youth Achievement Project should check out the Maghera Cross Community Link Facebook page.
Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, added: “We are pleased to be awarding assistance to 16 groups that are stepping up to address difficult problems that can divide and isolate people. The risks that projects are taking, with our support, are paying dividends at a challenging time for communities.
“Our work over the decades has been conducted in parallel with the political process and the current context has only served to strengthen our resolve to support people to remain engaged in peacebuilding activities and resist polarisation.”