At Big Lottery Fund, we are recruiting 10 young people to help steer our £50 million Empowering Young People programme. We need four young people to join with four NI Committee members to make funding decisions under this programme. We’re also looking for six others to stand in as needed and support the four decision makers. These ten young people will be our Young People in the Lead committee. The deadline is Friday the 18th of December at 4pm.
Samantha Selfridge (19) is a member of the youth committee at ADDNI, which is based in Belfast. She helps to steer the organisation’s Project One Eighty programme, which is funded by a £364,813 grant from Big lottery Fund’s Empowering Young People programme.
All through school, Samantha struggled to concentrate on learning. Her Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder meant it was very difficult for her to control her focus, but most people didn’t fully understand that.
“I didn’t know then why my life was a struggle. Traditional school wasn’t a good environment for my learning style and needs.
I didn’t have the confidence to ask for extra help, even if I had known what help I needed, so my memories of school are of feeling sad and frustrated.
I left at 16 and went to Tech. It was better for me, because it was more relaxed and easier to ask for help. After I got a level three BTEC in Computer Science, I tried to search for a job but I wasn’t getting accepted anywhere. Lack of confidence and experience are the biggest problems.
Then two years ago, I was introduced to ADDNI through my nephew who was also diagnosed with ADHD. I didn’t even know about the service until then. I found out they had programme for young people funded by Big Lottery Fund and I signed up to it.”
The first part of that programme was an intensive six week psycho-educational programme. It helped Samantha to understand her condition and develop strategies to cope.
ADDNI’s youth programme also includes a young adult support group and a youth committee to help steer the youth programme at ADDNI, and Samantha was recruited to this.
“When I went to my first young adult support meeting at the centre, it was like a light went on. I knew so little about my condition, and connecting with the others like me was like discovering a new ability.”
Samantha volunteers at the ADDNI charity shop on the Lisburn Road in order to build up experience and give something back, and to try to change public perception of the condition.
Samantha has become a role model at ADDNI. She and the youth committee put together an art and photography exhibition at Belfast city hall in September called, ADHD Has Many Faces. Samantha helped put a DVD together for this exhibition and she gave a speech at the launch.
The youth committee also agreed a manifesto for young people with ADHD and launched it at the Long Gallery at Stormont in November, with Samantha speaking at that event about how ADDNI has helped her.
“It was totally out of my comfort zone and I was really nervous, but it went great. I’m more confident in public speaking now and in everyday life. At ADDNI we aren’t just given a token role. A lot of young people come in thinking they can never achieve much because of their ADHD, but at ADDNI and on the youth committee, we show ourselves and others that we can make a difference.”