‘We help our members grow through a variety of networking opportunities.’

Chance of a lifetime

Some 60 at risk young people in the Newry area will be given the opportunity to turn their lives around after an innovative new programme developed by Newry and Mourne Co-operative and Enterprise Agency Ltd (NMEA) received nearly £500k of financial support. The £498,650 of support which comes from the Big Lottery Fund will be used to finance the Reaching Out Empowering Young People programme which will target 14-18 year olds who have disengaged from education, involved in crime or in care. The two year programme which is organized in partnership with Barnardo’s, the SELB and REACT will see participants undergo five areas of support and development established for vulnerable and isolated young people  in the Newry and Mourne, Banbridge and Armagh districts. The Reporter understands that even if only a small number of the 60 participants who are referred to the programme have a positive outcome then the half million pound investment will have covered itself. This is as a result of the financial cost to society typically incurred by at risk individuals through their lifetime. Speaking to the Reporter NMEA Chief Executive Dr Conor Patterson said that the initiative is ground breaking with the potential for massive rewards to participants and society. “This has never been done in this way,” he said. “We are trying to give young people who have never had a chance a real chance and to help them access opportunity. Young people deserve to be invested in a sustained and committed way  – then you can achieve change and a different life path.” In a statement project manager Pauline Coghlan said that, “We will be providing a range o f support including team building skills, numeracy and literacy courses, practical job skills and how to communicate, mentoring session to help build self esteem work placements and volunteering opportunities. The programme is designed to help the young person improve their confidence, develop a range of life and basic skills, perspectives and experiences that will help them understand that they have the potential to go out there, return to education or find a job and change their lives. Without this programme they are at risk of facing a lifetime on benefits without any hope of improvement.




  • Preparing for life – Individual support with literacy, numeracy, finances, cooking etc.
  • Preparing for work – Discipline of workplaces, work experience, working with inspirational champions who have achieved success but who have not had an easy path.
  • Preparing for business – Enabling participants to control and set up a small business venture
  • Preparing for volunteering – Working with a community voluntary group participants can experience the benefits of voluntary activity
  • Preparing for the future – Examining themselves and their own personal make up.


After 24 months it is hoped participants will be on a pathway to education, training or employment.


Newry Reporter

5th September