Choice Housing announce partnership with Rio Ferdinand Foundation (RFF)
Choice Housing has become the first housing association in Northern Ireland to partner with the well-established Rio Ferdinand Foundation to support young people through a range of personal and professional development programmes. The initial six-month pilot, which will run from January to June, will involve a combination of sports, music, media, and arts projects and will initially be delivered to young people across South and East Belfast with ambitions to introduce it across Northern Ireland in the future.
The pilot project will deliver progression opportunities with established partners of RFF including Warner Music UK / Ireland, UEFA Foundation, Community Foundation NI and Catalyst Belfast.
The Rio Ferdinand Foundation, set up by former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has worked in Northern Ireland since 2016 and provides mentoring and employment pathways to help young people in economically deprived communities.
Project Co-Ordinator Karla McDermott, who is based in East Belfast said,
"I'm looking forward to working with the team at Choice to create new opportunities for young people in South and East Belfast over the next six months and beyond.
"Our programmes will engage young people in a range of sports, music and art workshops, developing skills, providing accredited training opportunities, and improving access to careers opportunities. We are excited to be working with Choice and look forward to supporting them in their commitment to developing employment opportunities for their residents."
Choice Group Chief Executive, Michael McDonnell added,
“As a housing association we are committed to going beyond building affordable quality homes and a key part of this is supporting our local communities. The partnership with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation aligns with our pledge to support young people through developing their future employment prospects as well as, promote positive mental health and well-being.”
Choice currently offers a range of scholarship and skills-based programmes to young people across Northern Ireland including with both Queens University Belfast and Ulster University through their student placement programme.
“The programmes that will be delivered over the next six months, with a particular focus on accredited training in sports leadership, digital and employment skills, and a range of personal development courses such as equality, diversity and inclusion, resilience and mental health awareness will all complement the work we are currently delivering on the ground across our communities.
“The Foundation has developed strong partnerships across local sporting and community organisations as well as local businesses in Northern Ireland and we are pleased to be the first housing association in NI to be working with the team. Whilst this may be an initial pilot there is significant ambitions on both sides for this to be delivered in communities across NI and we look forward to working with the team on this exciting project.”
The Rio Ferdinand Foundation has significant experience working with housing associations in other parts of the UK, including L&Q Housing and the Guinness Partnership.
Rio Ferdinand, founder of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation said,
"The partnership between my Foundation and Choice is a fantastic addition to our work, offering training and opportunities to young people and communities in Northern Ireland.
“Partnerships and joined-up work are central to the Rio Ferdinand Foundation's work. Working with associations such as Choice helps us identify the communities where our programmes can have the most impact, extending our reach and helping us to support more young people in Belfast and beyond.
“I am looking forward to seeing the results of this exciting partnership in the coming months.”