Rural Action are delighted to hear that one of the many groups delivering the IFI funded Personal Youth Development Programme has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). The Queen’s Award for Voluntary service (QAVS) is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. Groups that provide a social, economic, or environmental service to the local community can be nominated for the awards each year.

Maghera Cross Community Link provides a place and space for children and young adults up to the age of 25 from both sides of an extremely divided community to come together and interact meaningfully in a safe neutral environment. It provides tutoring, counselling, confidence building as well as life and career skills development. The Link has, since its inception five years ago, worked with only a small number of volunteers and a few staff to provide social and personal development for disadvantaged children and young adults.

Ruth Watterson, Group Chairperson said, ”We are delighted to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for our work in the Maghera area. Cross community relations have always been a big part of what we do here at Maghera Cross Community Link. We work with everyone in our community to provide opportunities for all, in order for them to achieve their full potential and participate in all aspects of life. We provide programmes for those of all ages.”

“Our International Fund for Ireland funded Personal Youth Development Programme has been extremely successful, with 44 young people enrolling on the programme, 32 of these young people are now in further education or employment. This award is something we never thought we would receive; our trustees and all our volunteers are extremely delighted.”

IFI Chairman Paddy Harte adds: “This award demonstrates how projects can play a vital role within their communities, bringing people from different backgrounds together, building positivity and opportunity. At the moment, as we face great challenges beyond everyone’s control, it is heartening that the team in Maghera are working hard to continue to provide a support system encouraging young people to become engaged in shaping their own futures.”

Congratulating the group, Teresa Canavan Chief Executive of Rural Action said, “This award is testament to the work and dedication of volunteers, local people who come together to address community need. We are delighted that Maghera Cross Community Link has been recognised in this way. It is one of 25 projects currently working with us implementing the IFI Personal Youth Development Programme. All of these projects are committed to improving the lives of young people and we see the impact of their work everyday.”

The Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Alison Millar, commented in her citation for the Award: “The Maghera Cross Community Link is an exceptional example of a voluntary organization driving cross-community personal and social development, and promoting synergistic interaction, in one of Northern Ireland’s most divided towns and its surrounding area”.