4.5 Initiatives promoting social inclusion and raising awareness
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National Youth Council of Ireland’s (NYCI) Equality and Intercultural Programme supports youth services to embed equality, inclusion, diversity and interculturalism into youth work settings. The programme provides:
- Training programmes
- Policy development
- Networking opportunities
This programme also conducts research to support youth work organisations to engage more effectively with young people from minority ethnic backgrounds. NYCI also runs a Equality and Inclusion Support Network.
The Young Social Innovators (YSI) programme aims to raise social awareness among 15- to 18-year-olds in Ireland so that they might become effective champions for social justice. YSI is supported by the Department of Social Protection and their projects are showcased at an annual event usually held in May.
There are several other youth work programmes that promote social inclusion
- The President’s Award (Gaisce) is a self-development programme for young people
- St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) Youth Development Programme is a programme designed for use in school/youth groups that focuses on social action
- ECO-UNESCO is Ireland’s Environmental Education and Youth Organisation that works to conserve the environment and empower young people.
Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP)
SICAP is the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme. The current programme began on the 1st of January 2018 and will run until the end of 2022, replacing SICAP 2015-2017. SICAP is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability Inclusion and Learning (2014-2020).
SICAP aims to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion and equality. It does this through Programme Implementers, agencies and companies, who work with the most disadvantaged and the hardest to reach in communities.
This programme is aimed at
- disadvantaged children and families
- disadvantaged young people (aged 15-24)
- disadvantaged women
- lone parents
- new communities (including refugees and asylum seekers)
- people living in disadvantaged communities
- people with disabilities
- the unemployed
- low income workers/households
- the disengaged from the labour market (economically inactive)
- an emerging needs target group selected at local level by the Local Community Development Committees to reflect the specific needs of the local area if not otherwise addressed.
The programme has two goals that focus on supporting communities and individuals
- to support communities and target groups to engage with relevant stakeholders in identifying and addressing social exclusion and equality issues, developing the capacity of local community groups and creating more sustainable communities
- to support disadvantaged individuals to improve the quality of their lives through the provision of lifelong learning and labour market supports.
Ombudsman for Children’s Office
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) is a human rights institution that promotes the rights and welfare of young people under 18 years living in Ireland. The OCO also investigates complaints about services provided to children by public organisations. The service is free and independent.
The OCO advise the Government and others to ensure that laws and plans respect children’s rights. They encourage public organisations to promote children’s rights in the work that they do. They also carry out research to get a better understanding of issues that are important in children and young people’s lives.
The role and powers of the OCO are set out in the Ombudsman for Children Act (2002). The Ombudsman for Children is a presidential appointment that reports directly to the Oireachtas (legislature of Ireland).
Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC)
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is Ireland’s national human rights and equality institution. IHREC is an independent public body that accounts to the Parliament (Oireachtas) with a mandate established under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. The key aim of IHREC is to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.
The PEACE PLUS programme is a European Union initative designed to support peace and reconciliation. It began in 2021 and will run until 2027. The PEACE Programme was initially created in 1995 as a direct result of the EU’s desire to make a positive response to the parliamentary ceasefires of 1994.
The overall objective of the PEACE PLUS Programme is to build prosperity and peace within the region and to ensure that this Programme will leave a lasting and tangible legacy. This programme will achieve this by funding activities that promote peace and reconciliation whilst contributing to the cross-border economic and territorial development of the region. The framework developed for PEACE PLUS includes the following six themes
- Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities
- Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation
- Empowering and Investing in Young People
- Healthy and Inclusive Communities
- Supporting a Sustainable Future
- Building & Embedding Partnership and Collaboration.
The draft content of the PEACE PLUS Prorgamme has been designed following a comprehensive cross-border stakeholder engagement process, early in 2021 that included 16 different consultation events, with over 1,000 people in attendance. Over 300 survey responses were submitted. The consultation started on Wednesday 10 March 2021 and closed at 5pm on Wednesday 12 May 2021.
The purpose of the public consultation was to provide citizens, and other key stakeholders, with an opportunity to share their views on the content and administrative arrangements of the PEACE PLUS Programme, findings from the Equality Screening exercise and the Strategic Environmental Assessment. While the programme was expected to begin during 2021, the exact date is yet to be realised and some delay is expected due to Covid-19.
The programme builds upon previous PEACE and INTERREG Programmes. The last programme PEACE IV, ran from 2014-2020. The eligible area for the PEACE IV Programme was Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland (including Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo). Programme funding was worth €270m. 85% of the Programme, €229m, was provided through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 15%, was match-funded by the Irish Government and the Norther Irish Executive. The content was agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the European Commission. It focused on making real and lasting change in terms of Shared Education initiatives, support for marginalised Children and Young People, the provision of new Shared Spaces and Services, and projects to Build Positive Relations with people from different communities and backgrounds.
Youth Network for Peace
Youth Network for Peace (YNP) is a Peace IV initiative ran by Youth Work Ireland. It is a regional, cross-border, youth-led initiative. YNP aims to connect 10,000 young people through a Youth Democracy Hub. Young people aged 15–25 years living in the border regions of Ireland and Northern Ireland are targeted. The initiative aims to achieve meaningful, purposeful and sustained contact between young people from different communities to better co-ordinate youth participation and peace building.
Youth Network for Peace’s activities include
- Cross-border, youth led Dialogue Events
- Youth Bank committees of diverse young people; trained in good relations, assessment of needs, committee & grant giving skills.
- Cross border cohorts of young people training & leading on Social Action projects, targeting exclusion & encouraging peace building through joint activities.
- Campaigns to be researched & supported by young people each year on legacy & contemporary issues, with cross border conventions led by young people.
- Influencing actions and cross-border, youth led participative democracy events will take place.
- Online, internet regional radio & social media station will be set up & run by young people, connecting young activists with debates, live shows and topical discussions.
- Insight youth polls conducted by young people to test & monitor attitudes.
- Partnership of 13 cross-border, voluntary youth organisations, meeting quarterly to support a youth steering body to monitor & manage activities.
- A Youth Steering Body of 75 diverse young people co-ordinates all activities and contributes to broadcasting targets.