Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has today announced a major £1million investment to increase the IT capacity within the voluntary youth sector.
Eligible Education Authority (EA) registered youth projects will be encouraged to purchase IT equipment to improve communications between youth workers and those targeted programmes assisting the most vulnerable and at risk children and young people.
Welcoming the investment, the Minister said:
“This new £1m funding will ensure that the voluntary youth sector is better able to provide online and blended services to vulnerable and at risk children and young people across Northern Ireland.
“I welcome this investment, which is a direct response to challenges faced by many voluntary youth groups as they seek to engage effectively online with the children and young people they work with.
“Increasing the IT capacity of the voluntary youth sector will help support the contact and relationships that exist between youth workers and young people. This is by ensuring our most vulnerable young people continue to have that connection with vital youth services, as well as facilitating more streamlined online reporting for front line youth workers.”
The Education Authority Youth Service will act as a delivery agent for the scheme.
The Minister continued:
“The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted a gap in IT infrastructure within the voluntary youth service, which negatively impacted on its ability to deliver digital youth work and other online services.
“I encourage all those voluntary youth sector organisations, who are eligible, to apply for funding.”
Criteria and information on how to apply for the funding is available on the EA website – https://www.eani.org.uk
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption: Education Minister Michelle McIlveen launching the EA Voluntary Youth IT Capacity Building Scheme with Jo Venus, EA Area Youth Worker and Christopher Mason, EA Senior Youth Worker.
- Targeted youth provision aims to help meet the needs of young people within the Section 75 groupings or who may be at greater risk of social exclusion, marginalisation or isolation because they experience a combination of barriers to learning. It is anticipated that up to 105 projects aimed at the most vulnerable and at risk young people will be eligible to apply.
- Blended services involve a combination of face to face and online delivery. At the discretion of the applicant organisation, items may be loaned by projects to young people registered with them to enable provision of online support.
- The Education Authority will administer the funding which will cover the purchase cost of digital devices. Other associated costs (e.g.: internet access; maintenance; repairs; software licences, etc.) will be met by the applicant organisation.
- Eligible Items must fall within the range of £200 (minimum level) and £1,200 (maximum level) to ensure purchased equipment is of an appropriate specification to meet the need for service delivery. There will be an upper limit per project of £15,000 to ensure as many voluntary youth organisations as possible can benefit. Equipment must be purchased and receipted by 31st March 2022.
- Existing workforce development plans sits alongside this scheme and will ensure youth workers have the necessary skills to maximise the return on the investment.
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