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International Volunteer Programme
Start date: Aug 1, 2016, End date: Jan 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The EVS ‘International Volunteer Programme’ at Carrickfergus YMCA involves participation in our family activities (Parents & Kids Together - PAKT), Youth Centre and Health Hub Information Point. Carrickfergus YMCA has been involved as a hosting organisation in EVS for over 13 years and during this time has hosted three international volunteers on an annual basis. The YMCA is an international Association and as such we have a number of European partners. The YMCA in Carrickfergus works with around 250 young people and over 150 families each week through a range of projects including:Youth Drop in - Open 5 evenings & 2 afternoons each week to work with young people between ages 8-25 years. Approx 40 attendees each night. The club offers normal drop in activities such as sports, social recreation and arts & crafts plus project-based youth and young adult programmes addressing issues affecting young people in N. Ireland today - social isolation, drug & alcohol awareness, identity, sexuality and citizenshipHealth Hub – a drop-in shop front providing education, advice, support and referral to youth and young adults on a broad range of health related issues such as alcohol and drug use, pregnancy, sexual and mental health, diet and eating disorders.Parents and Kids Together Project. This project offers after school activities 5 afternoons each week for children aged 5 - 11 along side a teenager club 2 evenings per week. Parents take part in life skills / educational courses 2 mornings per week and family events 8 per annum. PAKT works in five disadvantaged social housing areas within the borough of Carrickfergus - Glenfield, Castlemara, Dunluskin, Sunnylands and Woodburn.European volunteers work in these local community projects. They are involved in activities that encourage acceptance of diversity, religious backgrounds and education. They will be positive role models of cultural diversity in practice. The projects are typically of 10-12 months duration, from September to August, and volunteers are accepted from all programme and partner countries involved in the EVS programme. Carrickfergus YMCA is currently approved to host three EVS volunteers, including those with fewer opportunities.The project involves empowering the volunteers, providing the opportunities for them to develop their competences, to learn new skills, to engage with local young people and their families and to learn more about the social issues that face families living in disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland. The objectives of the project are to:1. Enable local young people and their families from disadvantaged backgrounds to have meaningful engagement with concepts and experiences through meeting young people from a different social norm.2. Increase the aspiration and motivation of local young people to participate in active citizenship and explore the potential for their increased mobility and opportunities for employment across Europe.3. Improve the key competences and skills of the volunteers - both local and international.4. Enable the volunteers to participate in active citizenship that includes developing a broad understanding and a practical experience of social issues including poverty, low employment levels and poor educational achievement, engaging in intercultural dialogue, social inclusion, reconciliation and community cohesion5. Enhance the 'International dimension' of Carrickfergus YMCA's youth work and family activities.The working methodology is based on a Christian social action model, utilising non-formal and informal learning, and undertaking projects to build individual and community confidence and acting as positive role models of diversity at work. Throughout all the programme areas we develop themes of reconciliation, cultural awareness and community development addressing the issues arising from Northern Ireland’s long period of conflict. The programmes are located in East Antrim within which Carrickfergus is centrally placed. This is an area affected by the ghettoisation of Northern Irish Society, young people are brought up in sectarian communities where there is very little diversity. In Carrickfergus, 92% of the population are white & protestant with a predominantly British cultural heritage. In the recent past there has also been intra-community strife between the various factions of protestantism which negatively effects the self confidence and attitudes of people living in these communities. Carrickfergus YMCA works with a range of partner organisations outside its’ home-base area to ensure that young people and their families are introduced to different expressions of cultural and religious experience.The project will impact on those who come as volunteers, building key competences helping with future employmentespecially in youth work and social work areas and help local young people meet and understand others and hopefully lead to increased personal motivation and aspirations.

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