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Providing Life Skills in the Greater Shankill Area

The Shankill Women's Centre delivers the 'Life Skills' programme to young women's groups in North and West Belfast.

Life Skills participant with her infant simulator, posing alongside facilitator Rachel Hill, and her mum

This project started as part of the ''Developing Women in the Community'' pilot programme in November 2021, and the demand for the course was recognised.

Due to the funding granted by the Fresh Start initiative by the Department of Communities, the Shankill Women's Centre was able to employ two 'Life Skills' facilitators to deliver the programme to more groups and also purchase ten infant simulator 'babies' to help support the delivery of our work about young parenting.

The eight-week programme focuses on accredited group work training around relationships, peer pressure, risk-taking behaviour, and parenting. The project focuses on skilling women to be the best advocate for themselves and others, have the knowledge to make informed decisions, and become more active within their communities.

Susan Wilson, manager of the Life Skills programme, said: ''The topics discussed under this programme are incredibly relevant to the young people demographic, and we have heard so much positive feedback from our participants. The participants were particularly interested in learning about adult relationships and consent, and whether they were ready emotionally for adult relationships.''

Rachel Hill, one of the new Life Skills facilitators, said: ''When we run the programme, we want the young people's groups to feel comfortable and develop trust with the facilitator. They feel safe vocalising their questions about teenage parenting, safe sex, and risk-taking behaviour because it's a peer-led programme. Many of our participants do not feel comfortable asking their teachers or parents about certain issues, but were open to talking to us as facilitators.''

The participants will receive a Level 1 accreditation for The Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN) on the completion of the course. The Shankill Women's Centre is currently running four groups with this project, intending to increase to twelve groups at any given time over the next year.

Participants pose with their certificates alongside facilitators Rachel and Tanya after completing the Life Skills programme


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