Ministers Hargey, Lyons and Swann visit new £1.8 million youth space

Date published: 18 October 2022

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey joined Health Minister Robin Swann and Economy Minister Gordon Lyons in marking the completion of works on an innovative youth space in Belfast today.

Minister Hargey pictured at VOYPIC
Minister Hargey pictured at VOYPIC

The £1.78 million project will house the children’s charities, Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC) and Include Youth having been transformed into a centre for children and young people with lived experience of care.

The redevelopment of the former industrial warehouse received £549,222 funding from the Department for Communities, £376,000 from the Department of Health and £20,000 from Department for Economy.  The new space will allow both organisations to increase collaboration and partnership and reduce running costs whilst protecting the individual identities of the organisations.

The property was jointly acquired by VOYPIC and Include Youth in 2016 and plans for the redevelopment of the site were drawn up in collaboration with some of the children and young people involved with the charities.

Minister Hargey said,

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate not only VOYPIC and Include Youth but also the young people who were involved in the design of this new facility for their commitment to getting the project over the line.

“I am delighted that my Department has been able to provide £549,222 funding towards this innovative project creating an iconic, fit for purpose space dedicated to children and young people with experience of living in care.

“This new centre will help transform how VOYPIC and Include Youth deliver their vital services through youth-based activities and will also have a positive impact on targeting social need through the social, economic and physical regeneration of Belfast.”

The new centre includes a dedicated ground floor space to host the full range of programmes delivered by both organisations whilst the upper level will serve as their regional headquarters.

The project has been made possible with funding from the Departments for Communities, Health and Economy with additional support from Atlantic Philanthropies, The Tudor Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Ulster Garden Villages, Whitemountain and Community Finance Ireland.   

Health Minister Robin Swann, said, “The creation of Northern Ireland’s first purpose-built space for care-experienced children and young people is a significant achievement. I have no doubt that it will become a thriving hub for participation, training, personal development, peer support, capacity building and so much more.

“This project is an excellent example of collaborative working across the voluntary, statutory and private sectors and of what can be achieved when we work together. I congratulate everyone who has been involved – particularly those children and young people who have contributed to the design of the premises.”

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “This customised youth space has been coproduced with children and young people, making it a collaborative project that will deliver autonomy and tailored support for those who need it most.

“Today’s children and young people are tomorrow’s adults which will drive our future economy and societal wellbeing. It’s widely acknowledged that early intervention and support programmes like those which will be delivered in this unique centre have a transformative impact on the future outcomes of children and young people. I would like to wish VOYPIC and Include Youth every success in their new youth space.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information contact the Department for Communities’ press office on 028 9082 3516 or email.
  2. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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