Personal Stories: Work helped me grow up and make new friends
Stacey Simpson on how Barnardo's changed her life
Stacey Simpson (23) joined Dr B's Kitchen - a restaurant in Belfast city centre that trains young people with learning difficulties for a career in the hospitality industry - when she was 16.
She gained an NVQ Level 2 in hospitality, City and Guilds essential skills in English and maths, and certificates in food safety and basic hygiene.
Stacey (above) said: "As well as learning about the job I made a lot of new friends with the other trainees and the staff, and I met my boyfriend Gerard - and we've been together for six years.
"While I was at Dr B's I moved into a flat on my own out of foster care and I had to grow up, but I think it was a good thing.
"The staff helped me so much because I didn't have anything.
"They helped me sort out a sofa and a bed and a meter for the electricity. I couldn't have done it without them."
Stacey secured a permanent part-time job at The Kitchen Bar and also volunteers with Dr B's.
"I had such a good time when I was here and am still really good friends with all the staff.
"At the beginning I didn't like them telling me what to do.
"But now I know they were only looking out for me and I want to provide the same support for other young people and show them they can do it on their own too."