My name is Alison* and I attend Give & Take Scheme in Newtownards. I am currently working on ICT, maths, English and employability qualifications, as well as participating in the personal development programme. My plan is to pursue a career in childcare and I hope to start a level 2 childcare course this September at the South Eastern Regional College. I am working hard to achieve the necessary qualifications that I need to be accepted on the course.
I started a childcare placement at Tot Spot in Newtownards, where I am tasked with cleaning the toys and setting up the children's play area, including getting the crafts table ready. I then work alongside the kids, doing arts and crafts, help prepare lunch and tidy up after the children. After lunch time, the children have song and story time, and as my confidence increases, I'll start to get involved more with this.
I really enjoy my placement, and although I haven't been doing it for long, I know that it's going to help increase my confidence and learn new skills, which will be really beneficial when I start college in September.
My name is Gary* and I started Give and Take Scheme in Newtownards in 2014. I am currently studying maths, English and ICT and also enjoy the work prep and Activate health & fitness programme. I am interested in pursuing a career in retail when I am older, but had no experience in this area.
As part of my Give & Take programme, I have started volunteering with the local Simon Community charity shop. This is great as it gives me some retail experience, but it is also in a quieter environment, which means the managers and other volunteers can help and support me. Some of the things I do include sorting donations, tidying and restocking shelves, and maintain the clothes section.
My placement is good because I live quite close to it, and the other volunteers are easy to get on with, and very supportive.
B* is 19 years old and lives independently in county Antrim. She was referred to the Give and Take Scheme in April 2012 and remained on the scheme until March 2014.
B did not settle well into the scheme for six months and her attendance and reliability was under constant review. After a short work taster in a youth club and further work experience in the offices of local MLA's she decided she would like to peruse a career in youth work.
During her time on the scheme she achieved 15 qualifications including her essential skills level 2 in literacy.
Include Youth's transitional support service came into contact with B while she had six months to remaining on the scheme. The first opportunity open to her was the chance to study for her level 2 introduction to youth work. B completed this short course and was successful.
It soon became clear that her academic essential skills were not being given the same attention as her vocational training, and helping her strike a balance was needed to ensure that she would have the full suite of qualifications required to progress into university and employment.
B responded well to this action plan and has managed her time well. In October B was given the opportunity to study her OCN level 3 peace apprenticeship, this was a one day a week course with a vocational placement and an expectation on independent learning to succeed. B submitted her portfolio, has completed the course and has applied to the University of Ulster.
Naomi is 20 years old and a participant on our Give & Take Scheme in Belfast. Here's her story...
My experience in foster was good at stages but also bad at times. The good things about foster care were meeting new families along your journey, who welcomed you with open arms. The bad things were that I was in care from a couple of weeks old, so I've been in 43 different foster homes and one residential care home.
There was one foster family who was really bad to me and my older sister. They had an adopted daughter also, they closed our toes in doors, poured kettle water over us when we were in the bath, they had a choice to lose their job or the adopted daughter went back into the care system.
In 2008 I went home to my mother for a while but she relapsed and went back to drinking, as she and my father were alcoholics. The reason me and my siblings ended up in the care system was my mother was an alcoholic from she was 15, when she met my father. There was a lot of domestic violence, my father done attempted murder on my mother, this went on for 12 years.
I ended up in a foster home with a family in Newtownards, I was with them six years. I'm still in contact with them, they are old now so they had to give up fostering. They were the best family placement I was in.
My young brother and sister are still in a foster care placement in Bangor, they are placed together. We see them every month for an hour. We all enjoy our time we spend together. We all have a tight bond. We all are very close with our mother but unfortunately me and my wee brother don't speak to our father as he is still an alcoholic. My mother has been off the drink for three years now, in the future she is going to fight to get my brother and sister back in her care.
I'm a young person from a care background. I am pleased that I've been through the life I have because it's made me who I am today. I want to go on in life and be a foster carer and give back to the system. I had a bad start in life but I'd love to give a young person the life they deserve.
Now that I am out of care, I have my own house, two dogs, I spend time with my mother, I keep in touch with my older sister and nieces. I'm happy with my life now.