Introducing the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and EMSONI Inspiring Futures Project in Belfast

The Rio Ferdinand Foundation and EMSONI – Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation Northern Ireland, are proud to announce their new Inspiring Futures project in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Inspiring Futures is a joint funding programme between BBC Children in Need and the Youth Futures Foundation who are partnering to deliver a £7m fund to support organisations working to improve employment outcomes for young people who face disadvantage across the UK and who have been affected by the impact of COVID-19.

Our work in Belfast under this programme is supported by BBC Children in Need. The project will work with young people from minority ethnic communities to raise career aspirations, build transferable and vocational skills and engage with employers to increase employability. The programme will also enhance connectivity and communications between young people and employers, enabling participants to understand what opportunities and pathways are available to secure employment and undertake meaningful careers.

The project is delivered in partnership with EMSONI, a Belfast based organisation, established in 2018, for the development of ethnic minority sports in Northern Ireland and the integration of migrants through sports with the vision to strengthen shared sustainable and sporting society.

The Inspiring Futures project has been developed with a network of stakeholders in Northern Ireland, including EMSONI and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, that have worked together over the course of 2019 and 2020 to tackle racism and hate crime, support minority ethnic communities and promote diversity in the workplace and in society.

Adekanmi Abayomi, Founder/Executive Chair of EMSONI – Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation NI, said:

“We are incredibly grateful to the BBC Children in Need for funding this work that creates an opportunity for us to partner with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation which will improve our visibility and connectivity as an organisation. One of the reasons why the Black and Minority Ethnic community is not visible in Belfast and Northern Ireland is insufficient opportunities and lack of capacity, especially in our young people. These challenges have contributed to many inequalities and unemployment rates among young migrants.

Our partnership with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation will address the issue of unemployment in our community. This partnership will help our young people build confidence to reach their potential, by training them in new skills through sports and digital workshops, preparing them for opportunities and building their work experience and networks with employers.  This is an essential piece of work to support our young people, as we look to deal with the impact of Covid.”

Abena Gyamfuaa Aduse- Poku, Inspiring Futures Project Lead Worker, Belfast said:

“My experience working with the young ambassadors of EMSONI has revealed to me how our BAME teenagers lack opportunities, especially opportunities to grow their aspirations and build their skills for the future. The emergence of Covid19 has exacerbated the situation, as networks and opportunities that were ongoing have been halted. I am happy that we have an opportunity to start to address these issues as we respond to the impact of Covid19 in the community. I am pleased to help support young people to access these opportunities, with this fantastic partnership between the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and EMSONI. Such a great way to begin the year!”

Gary Stannett, CEO of Rio Ferdinand commented:

“I am so pleased that the programme has been supported by BBC Children in Need. We are all aware of the projected negative impact on employment opportunities and social mobility of young people brought about by the Covid19 pandemic, with those from working class communities and ethnic minority backgrounds impacted the most. By working in partnership with EMSONI, businesses and stakeholders, we now have an opportunity and resources to address some of those issues and create pathways for the future in Belfast.”

The Inspiring Futures programme with EMSONI, is part of a wider programme of activity by the Rio Ferdinand Foundation across the island of Ireland delivering youth empowerment, community development and inclusion activities that tackle racism and deliver more inclusive communities.