East Belfast Alternatives have supported a young man to be a better role model for his younger siblings, with the help of a Big Lottery Fund grant.
East Belfast Alternatives recently received a £7,776 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. They are using the money to buy laptops and run activities to improve the employability and personal development of young people aged 16-24 through a Give and Take: START programme.
It is part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out today of £847,374 to 101 groups across Northern Ireland. Download full list of awards
Daniel Black (19) left school with no qualifications in 2013. He was very bright but he found that school didn’t engage him and he didn’t put the effort in.
“Mainstream education just didn’t suit me. My mates were messing about in class and taking off school and I followed them. I was easily distracted and didn’t do any of my coursework for my GCSEs so I didn’t do well. I left school and basically did nothing for a long time. I was getting into trouble. I felt hopeless, wasteful and bored,” he said.
But as Daniel watched his friends start jobs and apprenticeships and saw them doing well, he started feeling that he wanted something to work towards.
“I had gained a bit of maturity as well over the last couple of years, so I wanted to make a change. I was able to get a Christmas job last year but then it hit me about a month later: What am I going to do now? In January it was clear to me that what was wrong with me wasn’t all that complicated, I just needed a job – any job – and that would give me some hope for the future.”
As the eldest of seven children, Daniel was starting to feel some responsibility to be a role model as well.
Concerned about him, Daniel’s parents put him in touch with East Belfast Alternatives, a restorative justice community based programme that helps tackle antisocial behaviour and community disputes. Daniel has been doing well in the project funded by Awards for All and is getting his life back on track.
“Maths and English are easy for me here at East Belfast Alternatives because this format suits me much better. It’s less formal, and more focused. The classes are very small and everyone who is here wants to be here. We have a great, friendly and informal relationship with the teachers. I get out of bed these days without complaining to come to these classes.
“I have met a lot of new people, and people from different backgrounds, including Abdulla from Somalia and people from different areas of Belfast. Everyone is here for different reasons, so it’s interesting.”
According to Ashleigh Roberts, East/South Belfast START Coordinator, Daniel has a good chance of getting an apprenticeship in joinery in September with a local contractor after he passes his Maths and English exams.
Daniel said: “A good chance means I will get it because I’m not going to lose out because I didn’t try hard enough. I’m working hard and looking forward to having a useful job.”
Daniel has become a role model to his friends and his younger siblings.
“I have been encouraging them to stay in school and try to do well. They can relate to me more and they listen to me. I didn’t have anyone close to my age to look up to so hopefully I can be that person to my friends and family.”
Ashleigh Roberts said the courses and laptops funded by Awards for All have made a big impact on Daniel and the other people taking part.
“There has been such a change over the last few months with Daniel. He is less shy and more confident and he has had his horizons broadened through meeting a lot of new people. I’ll be delighted to see him placed in an apprenticeship in September and on his way to a rewarding job.”