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Include Youth seeks volunteers

Volunteer mentor Nikki with a young person she supported on the Scheme
Volunteer mentor Nikki with a young person she supported on the Scheme

NIKKI Cullen from Armagh is just one of the many volunteers who support young people on Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme.

"I got into volunteering for a few reasons, to sort of coincide with personal development while I was studying but also because I wanted to work with young people of that age. So I'd seen it as a good match," said Nikki.

Each year the Give and Take Scheme supports 145 young people at any one time to improve their self-esteem, confidence and employability skills. Many of young people will have grown up with experience of the care system or left school early before gaining any qualifications and all are unemployed.

Volunteer mentors, like Nikki, are interviewed, trained and put through AccessNI checks before getting matched with a young person. Niall Blee, volunteer and mentoring coordinator at Include Youth, supports the volunteers throughout the process.

"At the first meeting there was me, a member of staff and a young person; we just went and had tea," said Nikki.
"I was nervous and she was nervous but we hit it off from the start. During our mentoring relationship we worked through a lot of practical skills from money management to diet, trying to look at healthy foods and things like that. I also kept her focused on the importance of her education, encouraging her to keep in a routine, making sure she was getting up and going with it.
"For me the most important thing that I got out of the process was forming a relationship and a bond with a young person. I feel like I personally have achieved, because it has been so productive. I feel I've been a good influence in her life, like a guide for her. I feel I've been the only constant person that has stayed in her life, everyone else has come and gone you know through different reasons or whatever. That for me counts for a lot.
"It's lovely that you can have that positive impact in somebody's life and she knows that no matter what she has somebody that she can count on."

Include Youth is particularly hoping to recruit volunteers in the Newtownards, Belfast, Ballymena, Coleraine, Armagh, Dungannon, Derry and Omagh areas.

"There is no real criterion in terms of a volunteer's background," said Niall.
"The only real criterion is that someone wants to give some of their spare time to a young person who wants support. Each mentoring relationship will help a young person set and achieve goals so that they might become more independent, learn new life skills, be better prepared to cope with daily challenges or feel better supported to engage in education, training or employment opportunities."

Include Youth's mentoring is funded by Big Lottery Northern Ireland. For more information about how you can volunteer for Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme contact Niall Blee on 028 7127 2760 or niall@includeyouth.org.

ENDS

Media Enquiries: For more information contact Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth, on 028 9031 1007 or email sharon@includeyouth.org

Notes to editors:

  • Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme is based throughout Northern Ireland, supporting 150 vulnerable or disadvantaged young people with employability at any one time;
  • The Give and Take Scheme is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Big Lottery NI;
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