Celebrating Care Leavers in the Belfast Trust area

THE Belfast Health and Social Care Trust's Employability Service celebrated the achievements of young people in care at a celebration event in the Black Box Belfast yesterday.

More than 80 young people, social workers, youth workers and personal advisors gathered together to share positive stories about young care leavers who have moved positively into employment or training. This year 71 per cent of the 101 young people engaged with the Employability Service, delivered in partnership between Include Youth and Start360, moved positively into training or employment.

"The Trust is delighted to see the achievements of our young people and they deserve credit for their hard work and determination to improve their educational and employment opportunities," said Hilary Walker, Children's Services Manager at the Belfast Trust.

"The partnership with Include Youth and Start 360 goes from strength to strength each year and I would like to thank the staff and managers in supporting our young people to achieve such positive outcomes."

Connor, a support service assistant at the Belfast Trust, is one of the young care leavers who took to the stage to tell his story.

"The Employability Service helped me a lot when I was trying to get a job, as I got to visit the Patient Client Support Service department and find out about all the different job roles there, from catering to portering to domestic services. I also heard from different staff about what it was like to work there," said Connor.

"When I heard that they were recruiting, my employability worker supported me with my application form and organised interview preparation time. I got offered a job as a catering assistant and have been in the job a few months now. I really like it and feel really confident about what I have to do. I enjoy chatting with the patients, learning about their dietary needs but most of all I enjoy having responsibility and routine.

"I have a partner and a son, so it's so important for me to earn money, support my family and be a really good role model for my son. I hope to keep working within the Trust and eventually move up."

Paddy Mooney, director at Include Youth, in his opening address reflected on the 27 year relationship with the Trust.

"When we started doing this work for young people in care in the Belfast Trust we just offered work experience, but soon realised they needed support to grow in confidence and self-esteem, gain basic qualifications and transition successfully on from our range of employability programmes," said Paddy Mooney.

"Now we provide a range of tailored employability services to young people due to additional funding having been secured. Our outcomes are good because of the successful partnership working evidenced here today."

Anne-Marie McClure, Chief Executive of Start360, said:

"We are so proud of the work done by the Employability Service and the Mentoring Service, and of the achievements of those we are celebrating today. Start360 continues to deliver the Employability Service in partnership with Include Youth and it is proof that working together really does work. We work together every day with Include Youth, and with the Trust, to help all of the young people here today in their journeys towards employment. Most importantly, we work WITH THEM as well."

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