New Horizon Youth Centre has been a long-term recipient of IYF (UK) funding and is every year making a powerful impact in the lives of at-risk young Irish people. The 2018 – 2019 period has seen them making so much progress, particularly with regard to partnerships that amplify their work. Please read on for excerpts from their 2018 – 2019 report, to hear more about their achievements and how this crucial funding has been used.
Aims and objectives: how the Irish Youth Foundation’s funds have been used and the funding impact and benefit
The Irish Youth Foundation grant of £9,500 has made a valuable contribution towards the overall Irish Project’s costs of £95,000 per annum (project costs have remained constant for a number of years). The grant has helped raise the profile of the work amongst the Irish funding community and has once again directly supported our bid to The Irish Emigrant Support Programme. We were also successful in securing a further grant from the IYF Emergency Fund.
The Irish Youth Foundation’s funding supported New Horizon’s Irish Youth Project to deliver a range of services including: life skills; literacy and numeracy; drug & alcohol advice sessions; counselling; physical and mental health primary care; connection to services in project participants’ home area; securing ID; and, most of all, a listening and non-judgemental ear in a supportive and safe environment. The project focussed on Irish men and women who are involved, or are in danger of becoming involved in, crime or dangerous street-based activity, are in prison and/or who have multiple and complex needs.
A culturally-sensitive service engaged with women and men on the streets
A culturally-sensitive service engaged with women and men on the streets and in prison, diverting them to New Horizon’s centre-based housing/advice service. It accessed young people into appropriate housing and supported them through resettlement work. We also introduced many of these young people to our in-house counselling service, our Communication Skills Worker, our Nurse, our Social Enterprise Programme, our Music Tutor, our Sports & Fitness Worker, our Women’s Worker and our Men’s and Sports Worker and worked with them on their mental and physical health issues, supporting them to attend A&Es, sexual health clinics, job interviews, court appearances and other essential appointments.
Our Lifeskills Training included: legal issues, harm minimisation, anti-social behaviour support, and basic skills (e.g. cooking on a budget). Regular prison visits were made to young Irish people in custody with the aim of steering them towards appropriate services on their release and before they were drawn into any street based/criminal/gang or other potentially harmful activity.
59 young people identifying themselves as Irish or of Irish descent
Since September 2018, our work on the streets, in prisons & YOIs, hospitals and courts has worked with a total of 59 young people identifying themselves as Irish or of Irish descent. It has provided access into accommodation, support with benefits, counselling and primary health care, 1:1 key working etc. It worked with each individual, supporting them to move on in their young lives.
New lead Jackie Casey offering intensive support to those with complex needs
Since lead worker Jackie Casey has been in post, she has developed an intensive case work model with these young Irish people in recognition of their complex and enduring needs. Jackie has been seeing young people weekly and offering intensive support. In this reporting period, NHYC has developed a new outreach strategy with local partners.
Within the centre we recognised that a number of our complex Irish clients were struggling with substance misuse issues so we have formed a partnership with Forward who now offer weekly drop ins at our daycentre.
As well as via street outreach sessions and prison visits, The Irish Youth Project’s work is supplemented within New Horizon’s Daycentre by 2 Outreach/Youth Workers, a Nurse, a Women’s Worker, a Men’s Worker, a Counsellor, a Communication Skills Worker and by external agencies and hostels.
The Project has also continued to develop its work within prisons and on street outreach sessions. The project works closely with prison staff, supporting young Irish people on release from custody and encourages them to access New Horizon’s portfolio of services at a crucial turning point in their lives.
Case study: instead of prison, an apprenticeship and bright future ahead
This grant from the Irish Youth Foundation, has enabled us to support many young Irish people. One of them was Billy, who, after a difficult childhood with an alcoholic father, mother with mental health issues and domestic violence in the home, spent the better part of 6 years in custody for various offenses.
The project visited Billy on many occasions in prison and liaised between Billy and the Irish Overseas Commission to make sure that Billy had the correct support in place.
Billy suffers from anxiety and depression and has suspected PTSD due to being incarcerated for such a long time in men’s prisons and witnessing acts of brutality which have left their mark on him. With the project’s support, he is accessing counselling and working through past trauma.
Billy was finally released from custody a year ago and since then he has lived a crime-free life. The project meets with Billy on a weekly basis and has helped him secure long-term accommodation and to obtain a CSCS card, Billy is due to start an apprenticeship in the spring and has a bright future ahead of him.
Billy says of the support of this project:
“I’m very grateful for all the work and support from New Horizon throughout my spell in custody and also on the outside. I have found them very supportive through the good times and the bad.”