Thomas McKeown, 20 (right) from Carrickfergus, is pictured with Mark Dougan, from the Princes Trust. The organisation have helped Thomas turn his life around. 


A project to improve the opportunities of young offenders, young people in care and NEETS in Northern Ireland has been awarded a major grant from us today.

The Prince’s Trust is one of seven NI  organisations that have been awarded grants totalling over £3.2 million from our Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme, which supports young people most at risk in Northern Ireland, including those who have been disengaged from education, involved in crime or in care.

 The trust has been awarded £484,319 to run training and mentoring courses to improve the self esteem, confidence, education and job opportunities of young people in east and north Belfast, Craigavon and Newry who have been involved in crime, are leaving care or are not involved in education.

They have been a major support for Thomas McKeown, 20, from Carrick, who became involved  three years ago and is now a Young Ambassador. “I had left school and was unemployed,” he said. “I had no motivation and I thought no one really cared. I wanted to do something creative so I took part in their film production course. I was then offered an internship with a media production company and I’m studying for a BTEC in Creative Media Production. The Prince’s Trust gave me the chance to make something of myself and I’m so grateful for their support.”

YMCA Lisburn has also been awarded £498,700 to give young people who have been involved in crime and anti-social behaviour or are not involved in education the opportunity to plan, develop, manage and maintain a large allotment site in the Whitemountain area of Lisburn. 

 As well as working on the allotment, the young people will also get the chance to take part in a range of courses to improve their confidence, education and job opportunities including horticulture, leadership and budgeting, and practical skills such as organising tools and equipment, lawn mowing and making flower beds and baskets.

“Some of these young people will have been in custody. Many will have committed offences like theft and assault or car crime, and a lot will have dropped out of school,” said Youth Services Co-ordinator Kevin Hughes. “We will give them skills they can transfer into other areas of employment, and they will learn to work as a team to achieve their goals.”

Adam, 21, was referred to Lisburn YMCA at the age of 13 after getting involved in underage drinking and anti-social behaviour. “I didn’t want to be in school. I didn’t listen to my parents or anyone. I left school at 15, I was earning a wage and spending it on drink and drugs,” he said.

“I was young and I was stupid at the time and I did silly things, but the YMCA got me involved in training and courses so I wasn’t standing on street corners drinking. They have helped turn me around.”

To find out more about the Reaching Out programmes visit

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