Portadown community group to get £134k funding from International Fund for Ireland

Portadown community group, Edgarstown Residents’ Association has scooped a £134k funding allowance from the International Fund for Ireland.

Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 2:04 pm

It is part of more than £2.3m allocated to community projects in NI and southern border counties from the IFI’s peace funding budget.

Edgarstown Residents Association will receive £134,178 for a period of two years.

The IFI was set up by the British and Irish governments as an independent organisation in 1986. It delivers a range of peace and reconciliation initiatives across NI and the southern border counties.

Paddy Harte, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland.

Funding has been allocated to projects within the IFI’s Peace Impact Programme (PIP) and Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP).

The PIP is designed to deliver positive transformation in communities that have not previously, or have only partially, participated in peace building and reconciliation activities. Meanwhile the PYDP focuses on the needs of young people coming from extremely challenging backgrounds who are at risk of isolation, polarisation and /or paramilitary recruitment.

Edgarstown Residents Association have been working with the IFI through its PYDP for four years. In that time, they have helped young people move towards a better life path and play a more positive role within their local community. A range of workshops covering important topics such as drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, confidence building, flags and identity have been delivered.

A key part of the programme offers employability training and participants have engaged with local businesses in the area including Tesco, Moy Park, Irwins bakery and Farrans. A number have also gone on to further education and full time employment.

Funded groups currently face many obstacles including dealing with the long-term effects of the pandemic, some are also working hard to remove the influence of paramilitaries as well as offering alternative paths to create more opportunities and positive life choices.

Paddy Harte, IFI Chairman says: “Peace and reconciliation work is experiencing a particularly challenging period. The long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic are just beginning and social impact issues such as mental health, employment and financial struggles are affecting many.

“Genuine fears presenting themselves in this post pandemic society alongside the ongoing fallout from Brexit are creating uncertainty.

“This year we have had significant centenaries, anniversaries, increased calls for a Border Poll and dissatisfaction from some on how the Good Friday Agreement hasn’t delivered for all communities here.

“Issues such as culture, identity, legacy, flags and bonfires continue to be used by some to cause contention across our society, but those of us in positions of leadership and influence must bring communities to a point where they can work together to find tangible solutions.

“In recent weeks, annual July celebrations have passed off peacefully. We are extremely grateful to those, including many of our projects, who have worked tirelessly to diffuse tensions and encourage people to replace violence with dialogue.

“The IFI is enabling projects to have difficult and sensitive discussions with discontented communities who are feeling very isolated, but we will continue to facilitate positive conversations that offer alternative options for progress.

“We have worked for 35 years, building relationships, and giving marginalised communities hope and positive opportunities that build resilience. We also have much to celebrate in what we achieved to date on our peace building journey.

“In the last year alone, we have helped divert many young people away from risk taking behaviour, including paramilitary recruitment. Our projects have supported 3500 of those young people to make better choices enabling them to give back to society positively.

“The IFI will continue to encourage community development and leadership giving each generation the tools and opportunities they need to prosper and grow.”

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