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REACH Across delighted with ‘Change Something’ funding for new cross-community Youth Café

22 February 2019

A new café for young people to relax, work and play games with friends was launched last night by the cross-community youth group ‘REACH Across’ thanks to a grant of almost £3,000 from the ‘Change Something Fund’.

The ‘Change Something’ initiative – which recently awarded a total of £50,000 to 26 groups from across the Derry & Strabane District – is jointly funded by Council and The National Lottery Community Fund (formally Big Lottery Fund) as part of ‘Youth 19’ – a year dedicated to young people in the North West – and is being delivered by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland's Acorn Fund. 

Since its formation in 1995, REACH Across has brought together thousands of young Catholics and Protestants aged 14-17 from counties Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh through residentials, international youth exchanges, personal development courses, school projects and volunteer training.

The new M.A.G.I.C Café project (Meet And Greet In City-centre) will also provide opportunities for shared learning and social integration outside of school for the young people involved, and provide personal development opportunities that will increase their skills-base, employability, social awareness and self-confidence.

Barney McGuigan, Youth Co-ordinator with REACH Across, said: “We applied to the ‘Change Something Fund’ as we wanted to develop a new youth café that would allow our members to meet after school and at weekends.

“The M.A.G.I.C café will primarily be a drop-in centre for young people aged 14-17 years old, but it will also be used for training courses, film nights, band practice and other youth events.

“During the course of the project, the young people involved will also be offered café-related training such as ‘Cook It’, Health & Safety, Hygiene, Emergency Life Skills and Event Management.

“The members will also be involved in the management and staffing of the café with the support of REACH Across staff and volunteers.

“Importantly, this project will provide education and skills development through training and catering courses – increasing the employability of the young people involved.

“It will also promote greater inclusion by welcoming REACH Across members from diverse social, religious and identity backgrounds throughout the western region.

“We’re therefore delighted to have been awarded a grant from the ‘Change Something Fund’ – as securing this funding for the new café will make such a huge impact – providing members with somewhere they can relax, play games, do their homework, listen to music and use the WI-FI.

“The café will also not only help those running and managing it to develop practical and personal skills – but will significantly increase cross-community contact and provide members with further opportunities to interact and gain new friends.”

Julie Harrison, The National Lottery Community Fund NI Chair, said: "It is fantastic to see young people taking the lead in developing great ideas to help their communities thrive, as they know and understand what young people would like to see in the local area.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are proud to be able to support REACH Across so they can provide this vibrant cross-community space for young people to socialise and learn new skills.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle added: “For almost 30 years now, the REACH Across project has benefited so many young people in Derry and beyond. Indeed, it has been an exemplar of cross-community activism – focusing on enabling and developing young people themselves. 

“I have always been impressed by this project's effectiveness and range of issues and interests explored in their courses and programmes – which are providing positive impacts at many levels, as well as the more obvious or tangible community relations benefits.

“The ‘Change Something’ funding awarded for the new café will provide an important service for the young people where they can hang out, take part in activities and get sign-posted to further support services – and will add to the proven good work and potential of this excellent organisation.

“It’s also great to see Council and lottery funding contributing to the success of the new café – one that I’m sure will be valued by teenagers from both sides of our community for many years to come."

For further information on the Change Something Fund visit www.derrystrabane.com/changesomething