The Community Relations Project within Challenge for Youth came into being in June 1996. It is funded by PSEPII programme, administered by the Department of Education for Northern Ireland and the International Fund for Ireland's Community Bridges Programme. The team attached to this project work on phase 2 of the overall Operational model providing structured programmes to demotivated young people from all communities in the greater Belfast area, working with the community groups associated with these young people and developing training for staff and volunteers. The project has also been actively involved in changing the ethos of the organisation to reflect a community relations stance. This has ensured that community relations is not seen as separate but permeates throughout all of the programmes.
The Community Relations Project aims to reduce offending and sectarian activity amongst young people in the greater Belfast area by establishing innovative programmes of constructive engagement with disadvantaged young people and engaging more directly and consistently with their attitudes to crime, violence and sectarianism. We also aim to deepen existing involvement with community organisations, encouraging networking between groups of young people they refer to the project and offering anti-sectarian training to their management, staff and volunteers.
The Community Relations team is made up of Rena Gamble the Community Relations Co-ordinator and Andy Bermingham the Community Relations Project worker. To date we are working with seven community groups and one centre based group. These groups are representative of all areas in the Greater Belfast area. The project attempts to provide a comprehensive service to our clients through the consolidation of programmes which include cross-community contact, mutual understanding, developing skills in coping with conflict, mediation skills, prejudice awareness, awareness of identity and cultural awareness.