“Hi everyone, I’m Anita Dennison from Newry and I’m pleased to share how I’ve used my negative experiences of being bullied to help improve the lives of young people in Northern Ireland.”
For the last four years, Anita has been part of a team of young people who help make decisions on which organisations are awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. She’s voiced her opinions and used her experiences to contribute to where over £20 million of grants were awarded which are making a difference to young people across Northern Ireland.
As the current team step down, The National Lottery Community Fund wants to recruit a new group of young people who can be influencers, advocates, researchers and decision makers and bring their experience and their voice into our grant making as part of our new Young People In the Lead team.
Anita continued: “I was 21 when I first joined the young people group at The National Lottery Community Fund. I believe in taking action to make the future of young people better, so this group was a perfect fit for me.
“I’ve been a student while serving on the panel and just recently qualified as a social worker. This experience definitely helped with my studies and finding a job once I graduated. I’ve learnt a lot about the services available for young people in Northern Ireland and it’s really opened my eyes to the amazing community projects which are out there supporting young people every day.”
Anita knows first-hand about the challenges some young people face as she was bullied for four years during secondary school. She was a confident teenager and the support of her friends, family and teachers helped her cope with it, but it still negatively affected her everyday life and her mental health suffered.
“There are so many challenges that young people face every day and not everyone has a good peer group or supportive family to help them, they might need a local project which is applying for National Lottery funding to provide a lifeline for them – I’m really pleased to have helped to fund some of these.
“At 15 I got involved with the Fixers Campaign and used my experiences to run anti-bullying campaign. This made me feel even stronger and I felt lucky that I was able to do that, but I knew there were young people out there suffering in silence and I hoped my campaign would help them.”
Anita then went on to become an anti-bullying ambassador at her school, set up her own anti-bullying campaign on social media, and even spoke at a TEDx event, all before she was 20 years old. At 21 she joined the young people team at The National Lottery Community Fund.
“I knew I wanted to keep helping young people so when I saw the advert to get involved in The National Lottery Community Fund’s young people team I knew it would help me to make an even bigger difference.
“It was a great experience and I met a really great, diverse bunch of young people from across Northern Ireland that I wouldn’t have otherwise been connected to. I learnt new skills and my confidence and knowledge really improved as well.
“I really felt part of the funding process – it wasn’t just tokenistic to have young people there – we were listened to and we were part of the reason why decisions were made for the greater good of young people.
“If you know a young person who wants an opportunity to make a difference then tell them about this opportunity and encourage them to apply. You don’t need all the experiences I had to apply – you just need to have a voice on what matters to young people.”
The National Lottery Community Fund for Northern Ireland is looking to recruit a panel of six to eight young people aged from 16 to 25 from across Northern Ireland to shape how National Lottery money will be used to support children, young people and communities in the future.
It is simple to apply, you just need to answer a few questions in an email or in a short video. Find out more here.
Contact us on 02890 551 455 or YPIL@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk