03/02/2012

Ministers Welcome Work At South Belfast Youth Centre

Education Minister, John O’Dowd and Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, have welcomed the beginning of construction work at St Malachy’s Youth Centre in the Market area of Belfast.

The £1.6 million project will provide facilities for young people in the area which will also be made available for local community groups as well as St Malachy’s Primary School.

Commenting as construction work commenced, Minister O’Dowd said: “The construction of a new youth centre in the Markets is an investment in the young people in this part of the city.

“My Department has invested £900,000 in a project that will give young people in this area an opportunity to take part in positive activities in a safe and modern environment. Education does not stop at the school gates and I want the young people of this area to have access to a form of education which will complement what they learn in school and engage them in a different learning environment.

“A high quality youth club provides a variety of programmes and activities. It also adds a layer of non-formal learning which can help young people fulfil their potential. I value the role of youth work and youth workers in helping young people to gain confidence, develop their self-esteem, and have high expectations and aspirations for themselves and their communities.

“This investment demonstrates my commitment to recognising the value of other forms of education delivered by a range of providers. Investment in youth work is key in helping deliver the priorities of my Department.”

The Department for Social Development has contributed the balance of funding, some £600,000, in the project, which is due for completion in February 2013.

Minister McCausland said: “My Department, through the Belfast Regeneration Office, has been working closely with the St Malachy’s group to develop the proposals for a purpose-built youth centre in the Markets area.

“This is a significant regeneration project which is badly needed in this area and which has the potential to address local Neighbourhood Renewal priorities. There is a challenge to everyone locally to improve youth services for the benefit of local young people and this project will help to tackle some of the issues which exist within this community. This project, alongside other Neighbourhood Renewal assistance, will make a real difference to this part of South Belfast.

“This project is an excellent example of how community representatives working with the relevant statutory bodies can help deliver meaningful change to their own communities. The development of this facility demonstrates the determination of the community to address local issues and is particularly good news for the youth of the area. I look forward to visiting the new centre when the construction completes.”

(GK/DW)

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