Belfast Telegraph

Out of work for two years... but Prince'sTrust gave me a new lease of life

By Amanda Poole

A young Belfast man who turned his life around with the help of the Prince’s Trust is urging unemployed young people to approach the charity for help in 2013.

After graduating from university in 2010, Sean Mullan (24) found himself falling in to the category of young people not in employment, education or training, known as a NEETs.

He couldn’t find a job and was losing hope of living a fulfilling life until he spotted a Get Into Youth Work advertisement in our sister paper, Sunday Life.

Sean, now a youth worker for the Ashton Community Trust at the New Lodge Youth Centre in north Belfast, said he didn’t have the easiest time at school.

He found it difficult and was eventually expelled in third year, leaving him with no qualifications and feeling like a failure.

During his teenage years he got in to trouble with the police, but then decided to get back into education through his passion of performing arts.

“I challenged myself and did a BTEC national diploma, as I could not study any other courses due to my experience in school,” Sean said.

“I worked really hard and fought passionately for a place at Manchester University, but I still found that my experience coming out of school with no GCSEs really affected my future life chances and employment opportunities.”

After graduating in 2010, Sean was unemployed for a period of two years and his self-esteem was low.

“It was a terrible time,” Sean recalled. “I had so many hopes and aspirations, but my spirits were crushed because there were no jobs out there.

“Then I applied for and got a place on the Prince’s Trust youth work programme.

“It truly has been a life-changing experience.

“Going on the programme gave me a purpose and a routine and I got the opportunity to meet lots of different kinds of people.

“I gained so many skills and the qualifications to enable me to get a job as a youth worker.”

Sean shared his story with the Belfast Telegraph as a new report from the Prince’s Trust, published today, revealed the difficulties NEETs have in dealing with day-to-day life and getting employment opportunities in the current recession.

According to the latest Government figures, more than 19% of 18-24-year-olds in Northern Ireland are unemployed.

Sean said through the Prince’s Trust he got a “new lease of life” and is urging other young people struggling to find employment or a purpose in life to try and start 2013 on a positive note.

“The Prince’s Trust programme I did was fantastic,” Sean said.

“It gave me a reason to get up in the morning, it gave me drive, ambition and let me dream.

“Now my dreams are becoming a reality, as I am employed by the Ashton Community Trust as a youth worker, at the New Lodge Youth Centre, where I can informally educate and inspire other young people.

“It’s amazing,” he added.

Background

Since 1976, the Prince’s Trust has helped more than 700,000 disadvantaged young people across the UK get their lives on track.

The Prince of Wales’ charity supports 13-to-30-year-olds who are unemployed, struggling at school and at risk of exclusion.

Many of the young people are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness and mental health problems, or they have been in trouble with the law.

Prince’s Trust programmes offer practical and financial support to develop self-esteem and skills for work.

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