Pupils' support project wins grant
A Belfast project supporting young people whose stress and anxiety are preventing them from attending school has been awarded a lottery grant.
Belfast Hospital School has been handed £4,800 to develop a new centre for young people who have been in hospital and are dealing with low self-esteem preventing them from returning to a mainstream school.
It is one of 66 groups across Northern Ireland that have won grants worth more than half a million pounds.
Principal Michelle Godfrey said: "Up to now, young people suffering from anxiety-based school refusal had to be educated at home by tutors from the school, but this only reinforced the problem of their isolation."
Since October the school has borrowed rooms at a centre in Barrack Street where it offers these young people support and this grant will now allow it to rent dedicated space in the building.
Ms Godfrey added: "This is a way to provide them with therapy and to involve them in vocational education and give them careers advice so they can go into further or higher education.
"Coming to this school three or four days a week not only has huge benefits for them academically but they have the chance to interact with people of their own age."
Geraldine Taylor's son Conor, 14, has just returned to mainstream education after attending lessons at the centre.
She said: "Conor would not have been able to go back to school only for the support he got.
"It was a big relief to see him going out the door, even just for a couple of hours a day. It got him socialising again and built up his confidence as well as getting him into a routine. It has been an absolute godsend."