As a charity BYFC, in Northern Ireland, provides a comprehensive programme of recreational, educational, cross-community and citizenship initiatives which are geared towards effecting positive change in the lives of young people. In the same way that the “Blue Houses”are centred at the heart of Ballysillan, young people are at the heart of BYFC and have an integral role to play in the design and implementation of our programmes.
The project Soul Action supports is called Natural Highs. Natural Highs will work with a group of 10 young males, age 11-14, who are at risk, and due to circumstance and choice could become socially excluded. Meeting on a Tuesday, 7 – 10pm & Friday, 4pm – 8pm, from April to July, the main aim is to discourage this group of young men from the misuse of drugs and alcohol, with the hope to break a generational cycle of drug and alcohol abuse. The project provides creative workshops looking at different drug and alcohol issues, such as illegality, physical and mental health issues, addiction, debt, violence and anti social behaviour within the community.
News and prayer requests:
Moments of frustration and moments of wonder, that’s life in the Bluehouses working with these incredible young people. Through Boys Group and Drop-in over the past eight months young people have got to try out new experiences and develop new skills, they have learnt about the dangers of drugs and alcohol on individuals and families and communities, they have learnt about drugs and the law, they have developed leadership skills, they have made new friends and strengthened existing friendships. The boys are equipped much better now than this time last year to make informed decisions about drug and alcohol use. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean they will always make positive choices and fortunately it means sometimes they will. Most of all they know that the Bluehouses is somewhere they can engage in exciting programmes and experience ‘natural highs’ like standing on top of their country’s tallest mountain (One of our recent trips away). And they know this is somewhere they will be welcomed and accepted.
Continue to pray for the young people involved in the boys group and drop-in, and also that the team would be strengthened to continue the great work they are doing.
Here is just one of many stories from this project:
(Names in stories have been changed)
Boys group has been full of highs and lows; moments of incredible wonder and moments of incredible frustration. Like the time Harry aged 11 engaged really well in a group work session about tobacco and the dangers of smoking. Harry was listening intently and concluded very astutely “so the government know tobacco is the drug that kills the most people but they don’t make it illegal because they would lose loads of money” – Harry didn’t need to say anything, his facial expression summed up his horror at the perceived scandal. The next week Harry wasn’t at boys group. He was grounded as he had been caught smoking.
There have been many encouraging stories of breakthrough, but the story of Harry truly reflects the need for the Bluehouses project in the Ballysillan community.
For all the latest news from the project, follow the link to their latest newsletter below: