With the onset of March there came little improvement in the fine weather across the island of Ireland, both North and South, but this did not dampen the spirits of the EC-YP transnational partners for their fifth partner meeting in Belfast, hosted jointly by GEMS Northern Ireland and Time Associates. For those who may not recall, EC-YP stands for Extended Choices for Young People and aims to develop a bespoke mentoring model that aims to suit the diverse idiosyncratic needs of the often hectic lives of young people today.
Since our last meeting in Dublin, there has been much progress with the development of the online platform, which is now in the final stages of testing and ready to be rolled out and piloted with the young people. The partner meeting was certainly a fruitful one, with much happening in the interim, and the progress of the project to date was discussed in detail, as were the subsequent steps necessary to facilitate its successful completion. The partnership is well formed at this stage, and the meeting thus flowed fluidly.
The meeting in Belfast also provided the appropriate opportunity to train the master mentors, who will go on to train four further mentors within their own organisations. By all accounts the training went extremely well and the efforts of the facilitators were highly praised. These master mentors were introduced to the EC-YP mentoring web application and ultimately trained in its use, to be piloted with young people in each partner country.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Belfast also saw the hosting of the latest multiplier event, to disseminate the project results to date. This event was certainly a lively affair, to say the least. The audience was treated to an array of engaging presentations and intriguing discussions. Martin Magennis of Time welcomed the guests, followed by Anne Downs of GEMS presenting the context of the project. Basil McCrea, MLA, discussed whether Young people were ‘Tuned in or Turned Off’, with EC-YP ideally facilitating them toward the former. Jayne Burns offered her perspective on the collaborative mentoring experience, which was followed up with a conversation on whether young people could indeed be ‘Partners for Policy and Practice’ by Lorraine Boyd. The inimitable Rob Van Den Hoed, from the Netherlands, finished off the proceedings with an energetic demonstration on the design and development of the web application for connecting young people with their own personalised training programme. All these presentations, inclusive the overall event in general, were well received by the audience.
As summer slowly creeps its way into the north-west suburbs of Ballymun, the Ballymun Job Centre will be working towards achieving their most imminent project goals. They have already began training their local mentors, under the direction of the master mentor Pat Kavanagh, and will be shortly making preparations for their next young person’s forum, where the young people who are at the core of this project will be given the opportunity to give feedback on the latest project developments in order to have their say.
Julie McCafferty Ballymun Job Centre