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

By January 12, 2017No Comments

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-Ireland 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 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



Media Contact:

Emma Doherty
Senior PR and Corporate Relations Manager
Tel: +353 (0)87 1142983

About Active Communities Network

Active Communities Network (ACN) is a leading sport for development charity working with young people from disadvantaged communities. ACN delivers grassroots projects, primarily through sport and cultural activity, to engage, support and mentor young people into education, training and employment, countering negative social outcomes such as crime, poverty and mental health issues. For more information, visit

About Rio Ferdinand Foundation

The Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s mission is to inspire and enable young people to reach their potential by providing education and employment pathways. The Foundation’s vision is to create confident and skilled young people who are able to tap into their talents to build a brighter future. The work of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation has three key objectives: 1) To use role models to inspire young people and develop their skills and confidence through education, sports and the arts; 2) To work with a network of strategic partners to support young people, act as their mentors, and enable them to access employment opportunities and pathways relevant to their skills and talents; 3) To develop young people as peer role models in order to address important personal, social and economic issues,  enabling them to build a brighter future for themselves and their communities. For more information, visit

About BT Ireland

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. In Ireland, BT operates globally and delivers locally, serving multinational corporations, indigenous exporters and public sector organisations in every segment of the Irish economy, as well as other major communications providers through our wholesale offering. Our portfolio is a powerful combination of cloud services, global networking, IT integration, carrier voice and data services, contact centre solutions and professional security expertise, enabling customers to solve complex business communications requirements on a global scale. BT’s reported revenue in the Republic of Ireland was €507.8 million for the year ended 31 March 2016.

With more than 600 employees across five cities, BT is invested in Ireland’s economic growth and success. We are proud to have organised the annual BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition for the last 17 years, designed to raise school engagement in STEM subjects and help nurture local talent and skills for the workforce of tomorrow. For more information visit

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

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