Charity has made me feel valued at long last
Anthony Turkington on changing his life with the Bytes Project
The 20-year-old from Ardoyne in north Belfast is unhappy Stormont has made a £220,000 funding cut to the charity which runs a community and computers programme for young people not in work, training or education.
Anthony said: "I used to spend quite a bit of time in isolation and as a result I was very quiet and shy.
"I really wanted to feel valued and get a job; at one time in my past life I had thought about becoming a teacher but never got the opportunity.
"Then I met Bytes and everything started to change. I got qualifications, was able to meet others who lived in my building and, before you knew it, a small community of young people came together to better themselves, all because of the Bytes Project.
"Staff are friendly and really take the time to help you, which was very different to my past experiences.
"I've always been good at art and Bytes's Art programme enabled me to showcase my work, rather than me sitting alone in a room doing sketches.
"It has become a talking point for neighbours who are now interested in what me and my friends do and no longer see us as problem young people.
"This has made me feel really valued and proud, with self-belief I have never had."