Kilcooley Women’s Centre Youth Project Launched


A new programme aimed at supporting young people not in employment or education in the Kilcooley estate and North Down area officially launched last night. The CATALYST Youth Project, managed by Kilcooley Women’s Centre in Bangor. The International Fund for Ireland through their Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP) funds the project.

CATALYST designed to promote the personal wellbeing and social development of young people aged 16 to 25 years deemed vulnerable.  The project aims to increase and enhance their knowledge, skills and experiences to reach their full potential as valued individuals and active citizens with the ability to engage with others taking a good relations approach.

The official launch took place in Clandeboye Estate, Bangor and saw a range of speakers coming together alongside participants to launch the start of this two-year programme. Ards and North Down Mayor Richard Smart officially launched the project.

(L-R) Allen McAdam (IFI board member) with Tracy Harrison (Head of Children and Young People Services at Kilcooley Women’s Centre) , Ards and North Down Mayor Richard Smart, and Kirsty McDowell (IFI Youth Project Manager) at the launch of the CATALYST Youth Project managed by Kilcooley Women’s Centre in Bangor.

As part of the two-year plan, CATALYST will offer opportunities to participants to gain qualifications in Good Relations, Social Development and Education and Employability Development. The estate and surrounding area has had significant paramilitary activity in recent years with many young people continuing to be at risk from ’recruitment’ in the area.

With low educational attainment, levels and employability opportunities open to young people in the area, CATALYST aim to offer young participants with the foundation to build a better future for themselves, while developing new relationships and community relations.

Commenting at the launch, Allen McAdam, International Fund for Ireland, Board Member said: “The main purpose of the Personal Youth Development Programme, which CATALYST is funded through, is to deliver opportunities for young people to change the direction of their future through developing practical life skills that can really make a difference.

“The programme targets those hard to reach individuals who may have become disengaged with their local community. The Kilcooley estate, also known as Bangor Neighbourhood Renewal Area falls within 20-30% of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland. It is important that these areas are not left behind and that young people develop confidence in themselves and their communities to make a change for the better”.

Kirsty McDowell, IFI Youth Manager at Kilcooley Women’s Centre, said: “We are delighted to officially launch this wonderful programme which has been designed to bring about real change in young lives as well as providing countless opportunities for those who are ready to change their life and reach their full potential.”

Kilcooley Women’s Centre offers a wide portfolio of activities, including training and education, employability skills, health and wellbeing programmes, peace and reconciliation activities, arts and social events and personal development programmes to build skills, confidence and self-esteem.