Belfast Telegraph

Lifeline for vulnerable Belfast teenagers with new mentoring scheme

Mentoring scheme pilot is hailed by local schools

Some of the Belfast teenagers taking part in Dreamscheme’s mentoring project
Some of the Belfast teenagers taking part in Dreamscheme’s mentoring project
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Vulnerable young people in Belfast have been given a 'lifeline' by a new mentoring scheme.

The youth charity Dreamscheme is running a six-month pilot project providing pastoral services to at-risk young people who have faced severe challenges in their lives.

David Nicholl, chairman at Dreamscheme, said the initiative gave extra support to those struggling at home.

"Our support project in schools in Belfast has been a great success," he said.

"During the period we've been able to achieve more than we had originally hoped, providing 12 weeks of one-to-one mentoring to 17 pupils with severe personal, social and emotional challenges.

"We've also delivered two series of life skills workshops, covering subjects such as 'dealing with peer pressure' and 'looking after your mental health'."

Charleen Gordon, vice-principal of Belfast's Breda Academy, said schools often did not have enough resources to help students in the most challenging circumstances.

"Dreamscheme has been a lifeline for our school - they offer a particular skill set that schools usually have no access to," she said.

"Their capacity to engage with disaffected pupils has been amazing. They're so flexible in their methods, and can deliver such high quality and innovative approaches to engage positively with young people.

"We would be lost without them."

The current project was supported by a £2,000 grant from the Wesleyan Foundation.

Caroline Hill, the charity's chief people and strategy officer, said: "Helping organisations that are delivering lasting and positive change to communities is hugely important to us, so we were really happy to support Dreamscheme with this grant.

"Dreamscheme is making a real impact in Northern Ireland and it is great to see the pilot has been able to help so many young people."

Dreamscheme Northern Ireland provides long-term, weekly support to at-risk young people through local youth groups, residential trips, discussion sessions, well-being activities, learning workshops and individual mentoring, with the aim of encouraging ambition, building potential and promoting self-worth.

The Wesleyan Foundation was launched in June 2017 by specialist financial services mutual Wesleyan, and to date has already provided more than £1m in funding to projects operating in more than 300 charities, community groups and social enterprises.

For further information about the Wesleyan Foundation and for details about how to apply for funding visit http://www.wesleyan.co.uk/foundation

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