Social Innovation programme for Young People

Social Innovation programme for Young People

A new programme aimed at developing and promoting creative thinking around local social issues for young people has been launched this week by Enterprise North West in partnership with the North West Regional College.

The Social Innovation Lab programme, part of the overall Atlantic Social Lab project, will allow young people to explore and find new solutions to whatever societal challenges they are passionate about across the City. It will use ‘Design Thinking’ methodologies as a creative approach to problem solving that starts with the young people and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.

The Atlantic Social Lab programme is a unique programme that aims to develop and promote social innovation approaches and methods to give response to key growing social issues within citizens, third sector and social enterprises as well as the public sector. It aims to work with innovative initiatives that are tackling many of the social challenges faced by the City that have detrimental effects on people who live there.

The programme has been designed to support and equip young people with different skills sets, among them creative thinking, enterprise training and mentorship by highly qualified professionals from the enterprise, education and industry sectors.

Speaking at the launch event, the lead partner Enterprise North West’s, Brian O’Neill said, “the programme was an initiative that was borne out of intensive research and mapping of what young people wanted to see in their own communities and how they wished to make a difference.”

 “We wanted to find out what young people are looking for, what it is really they want”, he said, adding that the launch followed an analysis and mapping of the main social challenges facing the Derry City and Strabane District Council area and young peoples feedback during this process, which they then used to design and develop the programme.”

 He further added that “social enterprises and social innovation can be powerful catalysts for change – generating income, promoting innovation and helping develop a positive, sustainable community. It is recognised that many of the best ideas come from the ground up; and it’s about empowering these young people by giving them access to the resources to make their ideas a reality. We look forward to uncovering and supporting some ambitious, exciting and innovative ideas. Social innovations can tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances and the environment.”

Tina Duffy, NWRC project coordinator for the new programme, explained that the new programme “offers opportunities to develop and nurture young peoples ideas through a different approach. The use of Design Thinking methodologies will allow the young people to learn skills to help develop their ideas and solutions, but these skills could also be utilised in their current courses or within their employment careers at a later date.”

The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme and it is hoped that the solutions developed by the young people will be implemented during the Derry City and Strabane Districts Council’s Year of Youth during 2019.