NIHE funding helps Monkstown Boxing Club support young people from Newtownabbey

Funding from the Housing Executive has enabled Monkstown Boxing Club to provide vital services to young people from across Newtownabbey.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 9:47 am

During the coronavirus pandemic, many community groups and organisations have reached out to residents in their local areas to try and help in any way they can.

Young people, however, were hardest hit by not being able to attend school and not able to mix with their peer group.

Monkstown Boxing Club (MBC) approached the Housing Executive, the Community Foundation and the National Lottery Community Fund as part of their Respond: Reconnect project, which focused on improving young people’s mental health, providing them with a safe space and access to positive activities.

Members of Monkstown Boxing Club's This Girl Can young women’s group with Paul Johnston (Monkstown Boxing Club project manager) and Bronagh Spackman (NIHE Good Relations Officer) in the marquee.

MBC already delivers various levels of youth intervention programmes, but needed an outdoor space to deliver services in a socially distanced way.

They requested community safety funding from the Housing Executive to assist in purchasing an outdoor marquee, to allow them to continue to focus on young people they are already working with at higher intervention levels.

The successful funding made it possible for MBC to acquire a large outdoor marquee, and they have been able to offer many positive options for young people through sport and personal development activities.

Well over 150 young people from Monkstown and Rathcoole have benefitted from the Respond: Reconnect programme.

Speaking about some of the benefits of the programme, Paul Johnston, Project Manager at MBC, said: “It’s been so important that young people in the area have somewhere safe to go, have something to do and have someone to talk to.

“This marquee is a real game-changer and has already been used several times to hold socially distanced events that otherwise would not have happened.

“Thanks to the Housing Executive, the Community Foundation and National Lottery players, whose funding has allowed us to safely hold our programmes and sporting activities.”

Jill Smyth, the Housing Executive’s Community Safety Manager, said: “Our community safety funding programme is about working with communities to effectively address ASB and support early interventions to reduce crime.

“This project was targeted at young males aged 14-25 in Monkstown and Rathcoole, and has had a positive impact on many young people in these areas.

“Monkstown Boxing Club has increased their capacity to provide services to those on the periphery of becoming involved in crime. By being pro-active with the Respond: Reconnect programme, they have delivered interventions to reduce opportunities for young people to engage in crime, and worked in partnership to reduce harm caused by alcohol/drug abuse.”

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