Project Discussion Day
We were delighted to welcome 30 guests to the Irish Cultural Centre in London on 18th September to discuss the changing needs of young Irish people and their families in the UK.
Some 15 organisations we have supported for many years attended from around Britain and Northern Ireland, along with members of IYF’s Board of Trustees, Advisory and Development Committees.
Thanks to everyone who came along, especially Ruaidhri Dowling, 1st Secretary at the Irish Embassy in London.
Our main aim for the day was to find out:
- how the needs of young people, and the agencies who support them, have changed since our last meeting on this five years ago
- what impact changes in welfare payments have had on young Irish people and their families
- are we, as a funder, covering the key areas where support is needed
Following much lively and considered discussion; these four main points emerged:
- Welfare organisations are reporting an increase in young people coming forward with mental health issues. These are due to problems caused by poverty, job insecurity, low pay and housing challenges
- A broad definition of Irish heritage is required to reflect the changing nature of the Irish community – e.g mixed heritage, cultures, race, identities and sexualities – allowing people to opt in or out of various identities as they choose
- Holistic support for mental and physical wellness should be a priority. This includes physical activity with counselling and advice on health, group sessions on mindfulness and reassurance and assistance in areas which can cause stress such as benefits, housing and employment
- Our Northern Ireland colleagues noted that youth unemployment of 16-24 year olds remains the highest in the UK. IYF continues to work in areas of tension and deprivation. That ongoing support for good leadership aims to build positive and better relationships within and across communities through schools, youth and community.
It was also clear that the agencies we work with are keen to share information and network together – this was very much encouraged during the day.
Afterwards, Ruaidhri Dowling commented: “I was delighted to attend the IYF discussion and hear of the experiences of many of the organisations with which IYF work. It was a great opportunity for the organisations themselves also to network. Some interesting pointers were given for avenues for IYF to explore in its future funding.”
As we approach our 30th anniversary next year we will aim to continue to address these changing needs with renewed attention and flexibility of approach.