Streetbeat Youth Project is an organisation based in the Woodvale area of greater Shankill working with young people aged 11 to 25 to help them fulfil their potential. They are using a £9,360 Awards for All grant to pilot a 26 week cross-community life coaching service for growth and development of children and young people from the Woodvale, Greater Shankill, Ardoyne and Oldpark areas, and the surrounding communities across North Belfast.
They are among 92 groups in Northern Ireland who are sharing in a grants windfall totalling £750,350. A map of all awards is available at the bottom of this webpage: biglotteryfund.org.uk/northernireland.
Dylan Apsley (17) always wanted to be a leader. But the stresses of living in a disadvantaged area meant that up until three years ago, he was frustrated and felt it was pointless to try.
“Being from this area, there was nowhere to go to meet people. There was a feeling of frustration and helplessness. I was secluded to the house and not doing anything, didn’t feel a part of the community,” he said.
But then he came across Streetbeat at his school, and things started to change. “When I first joined Streetbeat, I had a mentor who was in his 20s, Johnny Clarke. He talked about his own life and how he had turned himself around and got into youth work. We had a lot in common in that we both liked, like the Beatles and that we both play guitar. He inspired me to get into youth work too.”
Dylan recently took part in a leadership programme with Streetbeat where young people were asked to focus on what leadership means, where problems can occur, communications skills and confidence. “It finally gave me the confidence and the opportunity to put the natural leadership ability to good use,” he said.
Dylan recently applied to volunteer with Streetbeat and was successful. “I want to be a youth worker and a mentor, to help he younger kids in my area. There is a lot of smoking, drinking and anti-social behaviour in my area among the young people and I want to use my own experience to make sure they don’t have to get involved in that. I want to show them there are other options. They can get involved in Streetbeat.”
Streetbeat has a number of other services available to young people including group work programmes, a counselling service, drop-in social area, school work support and a summer scheme. On 15th of July, they are taking 30 young people on a Beat Retreat residential for team-building exercises and outdoor activity.
Steve Morrison, project manager with Streetbeat said: “We try to give extra support to deal with problems and help young people to tap into their potential. We provide life-coaching for kids in the Shankill area, where most are disadvantaged and mental health issues are rife. We help kids to look at the underlying reasons for their problems.
“We have passionate staff that really care about these kids. That’s why we do it. It’s not just a job. It means a lot to watch young people like Dylan coming up through the project do so well.”