Members of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) visited the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park this week to hear more about the work of the Irish FA Foundation’s Fresh Start Through Sport programme.
The initiative, led by the Department for Communities and supported by the Department of Justice, sees the Irish FA, Ulster Rugby, Ulster GAA and Belfast Giants use the universal appeal of sport to engage with young people who are potentially at risk from becoming involved in criminality.
The NIAC visit comes on the back of a presentation delivered by Mark Dennison – the Irish FA Foundation’s Stay Onside manager and Fresh Start Through Sport co-ordinator – to the committee in Westminster in November.
During their visit the NIAC members also met representatives from Ulster Rugby, Ulster GAA and Belfast Giants and heard a talk on resilience from Lauren O’Malley from Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders.
Also in attendance were Lurgan Group and Police Service of Northern Ireland neighbourhood officers who discussed the effectiveness and impact of the Fresh Start Through Sport programme in the local community.
Mark Dennison said: “It’s a real privilege to welcome members of the NIAC to the National Stadium to let them hear from partners and young people who are on the programme. They were able to share with the committee the huge impact sport has made on their lives through our programme.”