“The CRED Celebration at Parliament Buildings was an excellent way to sign off nine years’ of the project – although I trust that this won’t be the end of this important collaborative work… just something of a short break. Watching the young people from the year nine cohort and their leaders interacting at the event was extremely encouraging and learning of their plans to meet up for follow up work across the various organisations leaves me hoping that further groups will be able to take part in similar opportunities in the not too distant future.” – Jonathan Gracey, Director for Northern Ireland District of The Boys’ Brigade
On 25th March young people and their leaders from the Uniformed Youth Organisations’ Consortium attended a celebration event in the Long Gallery, Stormont, Belfast to mark the completion of a collaborative community relations, equality and diversity programme.
Seventy–two young people and their leaders from Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland, Scout Association, Scout Foundation NI, Boys’ Brigade Northern Ireland, Girlguiding Ulster and Catholic Guides of Ireland took part in a series of residential based programmes designed to allow young people to come together in a safe space to get to know others from different groups whilst taking part in programme workshops and adventure activities. This is the ninth group of young people completing the project.
The event focused on hearing directly from the young people and leaders as they shared their experiences and thoughts on the programme and opportunities afforded.
To date approximately 600 young people and 150 volunteers have taken part in the programme from 2011–2019. These participants have taken part in a range of challenging activities based around addressing CRED issues. At various times during the programme young people and volunteers addressed issues including identity, diversity, symbols and flags, conflict, reconciliation, social inclusion and breaking down prejudice.
Each of these elements of the programme was designed to empower the young people, give them skills to work together and to build their confidence so that they could discuss the challenging issues being addressed in the programme. It has created an atmosphere where not only self–confidence and respect for others could grow but also real and lasting friendships.
Whilst the Uniform Sector has undertaken many CRED type projects in the past they were usually bilateral or trilateral projects. This work has been the first time that all six of the main Uniformed Organisations in Northern Ireland have been involved together in sustained work of this type over a prolonged period of time. This has borne fruit in terms of the achievements in the CRED arena as discussed above. There have however been other benefits for those involved. These include shared organisational learning from 6 organisations working together, development of new skills and knowledge, networking opportunities, the development of shared programme resources. The profile of the sector has also been raised, as has the confidence built in the ability of the sector to take on major work in the future.
This event highlighted how the Uniform Consortium has created opportunities, through the work of the last 8 years, to foster mutual understanding that is reflected in an inclusive approach to youth work practice. This in turn helps promote acceptance and understanding of our rich cultural diversity and also fosters communication, trust, tolerance and respect among young people of different cultures, faiths and traditions. The consortium has provided significant opportunities and created a safe environment for young people to engage in meaningful work and interaction together. This work has allowed young people to grow in confidence and increase their respect for others.
This blog has been adapted from the official Uniform Sector Consortium Overview of the CRED Projects 2011 to 2019 Report.