Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

£1m to help Belfast's teenagers

Thomas Turley (far right) with (left to right) Michael Neeson, Ryan Gibney and Ryan Hamill (Big Lottery Fund/PA)

Almost £1 million has been granted to help troubled teenagers in flashpoint areas of Belfast change their ways.

It is hoped the Big Lottery cash injection will get teenagers in deprived areas such as Ardoyne, Oldpark and Cliftonville off the streets and into further education.

Thomas Turley, 29, whose Flax Street youth club received £469,845, said the money would fund accredited sport and music courses. "It is vitally important," he said."This is an opportunity to give some young people a chance to look at doing something different with their lifestyle."

Mr Turley, a former rioter turned youth worker, said he was confident young people could be steered away from crime.

He said:"I used to be one of these young people, hanging about with nothing to do and no hope in sight. I ended up hanging about on the streets taking drugs and drinking. I got involved in rioting because I was attracted to the adrenaline and the buzz.

"I was given a community service order and referred to this youth club, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. They showed me that I could make something of myself if I got my head down and I went on to get qualifications in youth work at university. I came back to work in this community and give something back and show other young people that they can do the same with their lives."

Among the projects being funded is a social enterprise gym where young people can learn the skills to become a personal trainer. Suicide awareness workshops and careers advice will also be provided.

Meanwhile, the Colin Glen Trust (CGT) has been awarded a further £491,122 to run activities and training courses that will improve opportunities for isolated young people involved in anti-social behaviour and crime in the Greater Belfast and Lisburn areas.

They plan to stage midnight soccer competitions, and workshops in drug, alcohol and suicide awareness, as well as team-building and circuit training at Colin Glen Forest Park.

CGT chief executive Colin O'Neill said:"We will be working across a number of areas, developing relationships with other community organisations working in these communities to target those young people most in need. We want to show young people that rioting, violence and anti-social behaviour are not the right paths."

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