Bookmark and Share
10/01/2011

Young Disadvantaged Show 'True Grit'

Despite news that a tenth of 16-24 year-olds registered as unemployed in NI are at the 'thin end of the social wedge', having fallen through the net of education, training and employment and are sometimes counted as 'the new lost generation' others have shown 'true grit' in overcoming the odds.

Today, a bid to recover this lost human resource - that could be costing taxpayers over £400m a year without intervention to prevent those at risk from falling into drug and alcohol abuse or crime - has been showcased.

Nearly 200 young men and women from all over NI have been given a unique opportunity to improve their lives by participating in the award winning Gerry Rogan Initiative Trust (GRIT) experience, and the success of the programme is being showcased today at a special event hosted by Social Development Minister, Alex Atwood at Stormont.

Supported by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and the Department of Social Development, the GRIT Programme is delivered in cooperation with Opportunity Youth NI.

Organisers are calling on the NI Executive to look at this project as a cost effective and innovative way to help our most disadvantaged and young people make a positive contribution to our society.

Therese Rogan, Chairman of the GRIT Board (pictured here with Denis Rooney of the IFI and Minister Attwood, right, along with participants, Conor McHugh and Aaron Sinclair) is adamant that this innovative programme demonstrates significant value for money at a time when public resources are scarce: "We are not asking government to spend more money, quite the opposite.

"We are challenging all our political representatives to recognise that if this intervention were adopted within existing training programmes money can be saved for the whole economy in the long term," she said, this afternoon.

Results are impressive with 13 programmes to date providing this life changing experience.

Each programme was oversubscribed and had a 100% completion rate and GRIT has exceeded all expectations with 9 out of 10 participants remaining in training following their experience.

Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, which has been the main funder of the GRIT Programme from its inception, with co funding from Department for Social Development, is fully supportive of the impact achieved by the initiative to date.
News Image
"The resounding success of the GRIT Programme is testament to the importance of supporting work that ensures the most marginalised of our young people are given opportunities to fulfil their potential and share their hopes for the future with young people from different cultural backgrounds," he commented.

On the GRIT programme the participants are challenged physically, emotionally and socially, and are also encouraged and nurtured to believe in themselves and their ability to make better life choices.

They are shown how to respect themselves and others by demonstrating how they are each responsible for their own life choices and are given an opportunity to achieve for their personal goals.

Therese Rogan continued: "Recent statistics show that youth unemployment here costs up to £4.5m a week while it costs £95,000 a year to keep a young adult in prison and we are spending £680 million a year as a consequence of alcohol misuse.

"Much of which could be saved if we could reach young people earlier.

"As a compassionate society we cannot continue to allow whole generations of young people to become unemployable.

"If we want our economy to grow we cannot afford to allow this human and monetary waste to happen. This problem affects every area of government spending across the Executive and we know it does not have to be this way.

"We believe that it is important to showcase the achievements of these young people right now because they will potentially suffer most in cut backs.

"Critically the Executive is about to finalise a new Budget and priorities for a Programme for Government. This is set against a background of the need to work smarter for less and we aim to show that our intervention works and most importantly can save valuable resources for the Executive and the taxpayer," she said.

Also commenting, Alex Attwood, Minister for Social Development, who also contributes to the funding of the programme, said: "I welcome the opportunity to hear again, at first hand the impact this innovative programme has had on its participants.

"The GRIT initiative gives young people at risk of falling out of training the opportunity to realise their potential within society.

"In my short time as Minister, GRIT and other youth initiatives have proven successful and deserve praise and support," he said.

The GRIT event was held in the Long Gallery at Stormont this afternoon and was attended by participants of the programme who told their story to Ministers and other MLAs.

They heard that GRIT was set-up in 2006 in honour of Gerry Rogan, an NI civil servant who died in 2003 and has since won the Innovation Category of the 2010 NI Youth Awards.

The £400m estimated cost of the youth unemployment being fought is a percentage cost of young people in prison and young offender centres, and a percentage cost of alcohol misuse.

Picture: Brian Thompson, Presseye.com

(BMcC/GK)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

02 November 2017
Alliance Condemns Attack On Foreign National
The Alliance Party has condemned an attack on a foreign national in east Belfast. Councillor Michael Long called for a change to the narrative around immigration in NI. He said: "I'm extremely disappointed to hear more and more often of these kinds of incidents designed to drive people who are contributing to our community out of their homes.
09 November 2017
Green Party Rep Targeted With Homophobic Abuse
A Green Party representative has claimed he was recently targeted with homophobic harassment. North Belfast Green Party representative Malachai O'Hara said he was verbally abused on his way to work on Wednesday morning, 08 November. He said: "As I was heading to work, I was the victim of homophobic harassment.
08 November 2017
Memorial Unveiled In Remembrance Of People Killed In IRA Bombing
A memorial has been unveiled in remembrance of the 12 people killed by an IRA bomb in Enniskillen 30 years ago. The bomb exploded on 08 November 1987 and claimed the lives of eleven people. A twelfth victim, who went into a coma, died in December 2000.
07 November 2017
Security Alert In North Belfast Ends
Residents have returned to their homes after a suspicious device was found in north Belfast. The device, which was discovered by workmen as they were clearing drains in the area, has been sent for further examination. A number of roads were closed in the area during the alert on Monday, 06 November, however they have since reopened.
02 November 2017
Armour-Piercing Device Found During Three-Day Security Alert
A suspect device has been found by police during a three-day security alert just outside west Belfast. The PSNI confirmed that a horizontal armour-piercing device was discovered in the Poleglass area. A number of residents had to be evacuated from their homes during the alert and the PSNI have blamed dissidents.
25 May 2012
Projects Kick Off To Get Rural Youth Working
A Stormont minister has pledged to help young people in rural areas find work. Michelle O'Neill, Rural Development Minister, is backing the "unique" BOOST programme, which gives practical support to unemployed rural young people or those about to finish school.
02 July 2002
Executive provides further £10m for children
The Executive is to provide a further £10.1 million from its Children’s Fund to support new projects. These projects will be aimed at improving the life chances and citizenship of vulnerable children and young people.
19 October 2001
Politicians launch £18.5m children’s fund consultation
A major consultation into how an £18.5million fund for children in need and young people at risk should be operated, has been launched by Sir Reg Empey, Deputy First Minister Séamus Mallon, and Minister of Finance and Personnel, Mark Durkan.
18 May 2011
Lottery Funds Support For Vulnerable
The Big Lottery Fund has awarded nearly £1m to NI projects supporting vulnerable youngsters - and young people - such as Ciara Maskey, 18 - (pictured) who have experienced difficulties in their own lives have been asked to help decide where the money goes.
12 March 2015
£50m Programme Launches To Support Young People
A £50 million programme to support young people across Northern Ireland cope with challenges in their lives, has been announced by the Big Lottery Fund.
05 January 2012
40% Of Children Have Weight Worries
A recent survey has revealed that over 40% of children under ten are concerned about their weight. Weight issues were calculated in the poll of 1,500 young people aged between seven and eighteen. Of those aged 11-13, 34% are unhappy with their weight and 45% have been on a diet. 44% have been a victim of bullying.
13 November 2001
Rodgers launches £80m Rural Development Programme
The Stormont Agriculture Minister Bríd Rodgers has launched a major development programme aimed at injecting £80 million into the heart of Northern Ireland’s rural society.
25 October 2017
Translink Launches Youth Summit
Youths in Northern Ireland are being given the opportunity to have their say on how Translink can help meet their current and future transport needs. Registration for the Translink Youth Summit is now open. The summit will address key areas such as technology and innovation, rural accessibility, tickets and active travel.
24 October 2017
Call For More Support For ME Patients
More support is needed for patients afflicted with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), according to Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew. She was speaking after a public discussion in Westminster on the treatment options for patients and the need for enhanced public awareness of the illness.
24 October 2017
Two People Arrested Following Serious Attack In L'Derry
Police have arrested two people after a man was seriously attacked in Co L'Derry. An 18-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man were detained by detectives on Monday, 23 October. The assault happened in the Newmarket Street area in the early hours of Sunday, 22 October. The pair are currently assisting police with their enquiries.