BT announces support for Active Communities Network and Rio Ferdinand Foundation across island of Ireland

Rio Ferdinand and BT encourage young people to ‘Dream it, Do it’ at a special event at BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

12 January 2017 – BT, Active Communities Network (ACN) and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation (RFF) will join forces today at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) to announce BT’s support for a programme designed to promote entrepreneurial and tech skills, youth leadership, and social mobility amongst young people across the island of Ireland.

Active Communities Network deliver frontline projects, primarily through sport and cultural activity, to engage young people in education, mentoring and training, and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation delivers skills, employability and employment programmes. Both will collaborate with BT to share best practice, offer mentorship, tech skills training and development opportunities for young people in socio-economically deprived communities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The scheme is designed to help build career aspirations and employability skills amongst participants disadvantaged by lack of access, opportunity, or role models.

The announcement will be made at a special event this afternoon at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, featuring Rio Ferdinand, founder of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and former England football captain. The event, which also features broadcaster Aidan Power, Williams Formula 1 Racing CIO Graeme Hackland, BTYSTE alumni Abdul Abubakar and Emily Duffy, and genetics student Avril Watson, is designed to inspire young people from every walk of life to consider careers in science and technology.

Speaking about the event, Rio Ferdinand said

“The Rio Ferdinand Foundation, ACN and BT share a vision to help young people develop the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential through education and employment. We’re already working closely in Great Britain to make a difference in some of the country’s most deprived communities and I’m thrilled to be able to extend that impact throughout the island of Ireland.”

In the UK, more than 1,900 young people have already taken part in BT traineeships and work placements to date, with over 50% going on to secure jobs or continue with their education. ACN and RFF have worked with over 12,000 young people in 2016. All three organisations will now collaborate and share best practice to help young people improve their career prospects and ensure as many young people as possible have the confidence, knowledge and vital skills they need to succeed.

Shay Walsh, Managing Director of BT Ireland, said: “Technology is changing how we live and work. So it’s vital that the next generation has the ability to use its power to shape their futures. Through the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, we already provide a platform for students with a passion for technology and STEM subjects. Our partnership with ACN and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation takes this commitment one step further, joining forces to give young people in underserved communities the essential skills they’ll need to get ahead in a digital world.”

Active Communities Network have worked in Belfast since 2008 offering frontline youth engagement, mentoring and training programmes across the city. Following successful evaluations by the University of Ulster in 2014, ACN extended their work across Northern Ireland and into the Republic of Ireland, with an all-island strategy launched in Mayo in 2016 in association with BT in Ireland. The Rio Ferdinand Foundation works closely with BT in Great Britain and this partnership represents the first formal programme of delivery undertaken by the organisation in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The free ‘Dream It, Do It’ session takes place at 3:00 p.m. today in the RDS Concert Hall (beside the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition). For more information and to register, visit