Young People and Families

Extern works to support children, young people and their families and carers through a range of projects both in Northern Ireland and in Ireland which are supported by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.
Specifically, Extern delivers services to those children and young people who are assessed as at risk of entering care, secure care and/or custody. Our interventions are based on a ‘whole family’ approach which recognises and builds upon the families existing strengths and supports the development of new skills and coping strategies for coping at times of challenge and change in their lives.

Through our work we aim to:

  • Support families to succeed and stay together;
  • Keep children safe and reduce offending rates;
  • Improve school attendance rates and access to education or employment opportunities;
  • Develop and improve emotional wellbeing;
  • Increase parental capacity; and
  • Increase community involvement and social inclusion.

Our family support work falls into four distinct areas:

Early Intervention and Prevention

Extern works in the Belfast, South-Eastern and Northern Health and Social Care Trust areas to provide an evidence-based programme, called Multi-Systemic Therapy, to families whose children and young people are displaying challenging behaviours. This approach actively seeks to prevent children and young people from entering the criminal justice and care systems, thus creating safer communities for us all.

Our Strength to Strength project intervenes with children aged 8-13 and their families where the children may be engaged in anti-social and offending behaviour.

Extern also provides activity breaks for children and young people and their families/carers at our purpose built facilities at Roscor Youth Village near Belleek in County Fermanagh and the Kinnahalla Centre, outside Hilltown in County Down. These facilities provide opportunities for children and young people from Ireland and Northern Ireland who require a planned and responsive residential break to prevent home and care placements from breaking down or as a response to physical, sexual or emotional abuse, bereavement, mental ill health or substance abuse.

In addition to providing accommodation, our Youth Villages facilitate a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities that can be key components to the interventions we employ while engaging with young people, families and groups. These activities include: canoeing, sailing, raft building, swimming, surfing, cliff jumping, fishing, orienteering, mountain biking, hill-walking, archery, cookery, hair dressing, personal hygiene, dance, drama, music, computing, arts and crafts, woodwork, vehicle maintenance, yoga, reflexology and horticulture.

Extern Youth

The Extern Youth Support model operational in North Dublin provides a group based intervention model, aimed at young people aged 10 to 17 and focuses on the ability to interact positively in a group as a fundamental skill transferrable to all areas of a young person’s life. The content of the programme includes group based work, special interest sessions, one-to-one work, day trips and residential overnights.

Extern in partnership with Irish Youth Justice and supported by ESF provide Garda Youth Diversion projects in a number of locations (Limerick Southside, Athy, Naas & Kilbarrack/Killester/Raheny. Projects are community based multi-agency youth crime prevention initiatives which primarily seek to divert young people who have been involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. They do this by challenging their behaviour through providing suitable activities to facilitate personal development, promote civic responsibility and improve long-term employability prospects. The projects may also work with young people who are significantly at risk of becoming involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour.

Within Extern the following interventions are provided: themed group work, individual work, development of special interests, day trips and respite overnights.

Referral Criteria:
All referrals to the Project are identified through the Garda Diversion Referral Committee. The young people are those who have been or are at risk of being involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour.

The Objectives of the service are:
1. Provision of immediate diversion from anti-social or problematic behaviours,
2. Implement restorative practices and engage in restorative conferencing where appropriate
3. Support young people develop positive interests,
4. Support young people to develop social and life skills
5. Support young people to become involved in positive community activities. :
6. Provision of regular home visits to discuss progress
7. Work with the family as a whole to develop long term positive outcomes
8. Provision of guidance on behaviour strategies within the home

Intensive Children and Family Support

Extern - Intensive Children and Family Support

Based on the Troubled Families Initiative in Great Britain, Extern’s Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS) intervenes with 320 families in the Greater Belfast area who are experiencing particularly difficult issues. The types of issues being experienced by many of these families might include:

  • Children are not attending school
  • Children are involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour
  • Drug, alcohol or substance abuse is taking place within the family
  • The family are living in poor or inadequate housing conditions
  • The family’s income is low or it is experiencing financial difficulties

By working in a joined-up and concerted way with a range of agencies including the police, Probation Board, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, the Housing Executive and the Youth Justice Agency, Extern staff work at a highly intensive and persistent level to:

  • Reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Get children who are out of school back into school
  • Put parents back on the path to work
  • Reduce the high cost to the public purse which such families place on the public sector

Similarly, through its Kinship FosterCare Support project, Extern provides intensive and targeted support to fostered children in Belfast and their relatives who are providing them with care.

Extern provides intensive support to children and young people aged 8-18 who are at risk of being placed into care or of coming to the attention of justice agencies through anti-social, risk-taking or offending behaviours.

For example, within the Western Health and Social Care Trust area, Extern’s Passport project provides support in group settings to children aged 8-12 years who are at risk of going into residential care or custody.

Time Out is a short-term responsive residential service which aims to avert crisis and prevent breakdown in the young person’s living arrangements. Time Out engages the child or young person in a range of different activities while the local social work department intervenes with the carers.

Education and Employability

Extern - Education and Employability

Extern’s Moving Forward Moving On project provides support to young people aged 16-24 who are not in employment, education or training and who come from an alternative education background (education other than at school) and who may also have a history of offending behaviour.

The project receives direct referrals from statutory and community based alternative education providers, the police and Youth Justice Agency and provides mentoring support to help young people to move them closer to the labour market by focusing on social and emotional capabilities, building resilience, developing their employability skills and matching skills and interests to appropriate training and employment pathways.

Within Belfast, Extern has also developed and delivers a programme that works with 15-16 year-olds who are at risk of being excluded from mainstream education and who may also be at risk of offending, or entering into care or custody.

Healthier Lives

Extern - Healthier Lives

The Traveller Primary Health Care programme is aimed at improving the health outcomes of travellers in County Cavan and Navan. It is delivered through a Community Development model by Primary Healthcare workers from the traveller community. The programme focuses on health promotion in the following areas: cardiovascular health, health screening, dental health, addiction, healthy cooking and lifestyle and domestic violence.

Extern in Northern Ireland
Company Registration No: NI 16083
Registered Charity Number: XN 48714
Tel: +44 (0)28 9084 0555
Fax: +44 (0)28 9084 7333
Extern in the Republic of Ireland
Company Registration No: 383201
Registered Charity Number: CHY15770
Tel: +353 (0) 1 563 9402
Extern Group
Registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC103226
Company No. NI 618684
Charity Number: NI00263
Tel: +44 (0)28 9084 0555
Fax: +44 (0)28 9084 7333
Extern Supporting Communities
Company No. NI 637561
Tel: +44 (0)28 9084 0555
Fax: +44 (0)28 9084 7333