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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.4 Inclusive programmes for young people

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 13/08/2020 - 13:51

On this page
  1. Programmes for vulnerable young people
  2. Funding
  3. Quality assurance

Programmes for vulnerable young people


All the strategies to reduce social inequality have an emphasis on supporting vulnerable young people. The education and youth justice systems have a key role in fostering social inclusion as does the youth strategy. 

Together: Building a United Community

The T:BUC Strategy provides a vision based on equality of opportunity, the desirability of good relations and reconciliation. It also provides the framework for government action in tackling sectarianism, racism and other forms of intolerance while seeking to address division, hate and separation. Programmes relevant to youth, highlighted in the 2018/19 strategy update, include: 

  • The T:BUC Camps Programme provides opportunities for young people aged 11 to 19 across Northern Ireland to come together to build positive relationships across divided parts of our community. The camps challenge historic positions, encourage debate and discussion and provide a way for young people to get to know each other, try new experiences, have fun and help to build longer-term relationships. Camps are delivered on a cross- community basis. 
  • The Shared Education Campuses (SEC) Programme provides capital assistance to applicant schools to facilitate shared education. There have been three calls to the SEC Programme, with five projects having been approved to proceed to planning. The projects include a mixture of designs, but all include shared education facilities as the core element of delivery.
  • Peace4Youth programme focuses on supporting participants to develop capabilities in the areas of personal development, good relations and citizenship, ultimately enhancing their employability and improving their life chances. The programme targets young people aged between 14-24 years old, who are disadvantaged, excluded or marginalized, have deep social and emotional needs, and are at risk of becoming involved in anti-social behavior, violence or paramilitary activity. Many of these young people will not be in education, training or employment. At the end of April 2019, over 2,700 young people had participated on the programme. Phase 2 of the programme commenced in in early 2019 and will run until December 2021.
  • Young Leaders and Ambassadors Training Programmes launched in September 2018 to deliver skills training to all young leaders. Inspirational ambassadors have also been recruited from a range of sporting, physical and creative backgrounds. Young Ambassadors have been training the young leaders in the new areas and are role models for the programme.

Youth justice system

The youth justice system in Northern Ireland aims to:

  • prevent offending and re-offending by children and young people by working with them, their parents and carers
  • support victims of crime to help them come to terms with what has happened.

Support from the youth justice system, and work with young offenders, includes:

  • helping young people to improve their behaviour and integrate back into their communities
  • encouraging young people to make amends for their crimes
  • showing young offenders the consequences of their crimes
  • dealing with young people appropriately, depending on the seriousness and persistence of their offending.

A Youth Conference Order can be issued by a court of law, when a young person has admitted their guilt. It requires a young person to attend a youth conference, where they are supported in understanding what they have done and making amends to their victims. A young person under a Youth Conference Order is also supported in taking steps to avoid future involvement in crime.

The result of the conference is an agreed action plan which will help the young person make amends to the victim and avoid further offending. Specific follow-up actions can include:

  • an apology to the victim of the crime
  • participation in activities to address offending behaviour
  • restricting what the offender does and where they go, which can include electronic tagging
  • payment to the victim for items destroyed or damaged by the offender (this payment does not amount to more than the cost of replacing or repairing any property taken)
  • the offender making up for the offence to the victim, or to the whole community
  • if the offender is 16 years or older they can agree to unpaid work or service in the community.

The system is administered by the Youth Justice Agency (YJA). Arrangements for the governance, accountability, financing, staffing and operation are set out in its Framework Document.

National youth strategy

The overarching policy framework for the delivery of youth services is contained in the Department of Education (DE)’s 2013 publication, Priorities for Youth: Improving Young People’s Lives through Youth Work.

Priorities for Youth states that non-targeted/generic youth provision will continue in line with an assessment of need. Depending on the needs identified, young people will then be directed towards more targeted/specific youth work activities.  

Examples of the types of groups to be targeted include, but are not limited to:

  • young people who are disadvantaged, vulnerable, or at greater risk of social exclusion
  • young people engaged in risk taking behaviour
  • young people who live in areas of deprivation or in interface areas
  • young people not in, or who are at risk of disengaging from, education, employment or training
  • young people with special educational needs or disabilities
  • young people who are newcomers or have English as an additional language
  • young people in care
  • young carers and young parents
  • young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
  • young people from the Traveller Community
  • young people living in rural isolation.


Funding mechanisms are described where the programme / intervention is mentioned.

Quality assurance

Programmes focusing on young people’s social inclusion tend to have built in evaluation and quality assurance procedures. For example, Queen’s University was appointed as impact evaluator for the Peace4Youth programme, and their first report (on Phase 1 of the programme) was received in October 2018. The report was highly positive with the majority of indicators under the main outcome areas (good relations, personal development and citizenship) showing clear progression for young people. Almost 80% of the young people surveyed indicated they were going to progress to education,  training, employment or voluntary/ community engagement, and almost 90% had gained a qualification in at least one area.