Rathbone-Encouraging the youth of today

According to recent figures the rate of youth unemployment in Northern Ireland is the highest in all of the UK and has risen by 155% since 2008, particularly in areas such as West Belfast and North Belfast. This is no surprise as there is not a day goes by that we do not hear of businesses struggling,closing and people losing their jobs in these areas.

Those under 25 are the worst affected by unemployment, largely due to the fact that many businesses find it easier to lay off younger employees rather than invest time and money in their training and development. People living in the West of the city complain of a high level of youth crime and anti-social behaviour, with over half of these youths being under 18. I had a look into what organisations Belfast had to offer to these youths and found Rathbone, a local charity working closely with youths from around Belfast.

In 2009 Rathbone opened its doors to the young people of Belfast with the help of the Big Lottery fund and created a programme which supports young people between ages of 14 to 20. These youths have been disengaged from education, involved in crime or are not connecting with main stream services. These programmes include one on one mentoring or group training on showing these youths how to become more socially aware and begin their first steps on the road to employment, from choosing a career, to creating a Curriculum Vitae to interview skills.

With over 30 volunteers and a range of support staff from young to old. “We walk young people through a journey of trying to fix those problems that they are experiencing in their lives,” says Rathbone Centre Manager Colm Fanning. Colm welcomes the idea of working along side other organisations to tackle areas of need and begin to help the youth of today.

Rathbone has always been there for families who have come to the end of their tether with youngsters and will always welcome new faces from every community regardless of religion, race or social background. “We look at the priorities in a young persons life, and we then we will work out what the first issue is that we have to address,” explains Colm.

Rathbone hold events and fund-raisers, reaching out to all communities around Belfast, such as the Barclay’s Money Skills Programme. This programme trains youth in basic monetary skills, evolving career prospects or even just helping build confidence.

Every summer Colm and his team invite local youths and volunteers to Peer Camp, where the youth use the skills and guidance that they have learned from their mentors and one on one training, and show off their new and improved selves. Rathbone have found themselves going on more and more day trips and outings as they find this engages the youth further, from Art and Cultural Excursions to local Sport facilities.

Upon arrival at the centre, you can feel the hope and determination from the team members and how much this organization means to everybody. Local young people Sarah, Courtney and Tracy who needed guidance on employment arrived at Rathbone just weeks ago and with mentoring they are now on the road to success. “ Rathbone has been fantastic to us, they help us in every aspect of employment, from getting on courses to gaining new skills.” Rathbone has been opening its doors and these youths that may be on the streets, are now willing to become volunteers, learn new skills and better themselves. This is all the gratitude that Colm and the team and Rathbone need.

With local communities now coming together, Rathbone encourages more youths to seek advice, learn essential skills that they may be missing or are desperately seeking. Call the centre on 02890311570 or visit http://www.rathboneuk.org and help give yourself or someone you know a better quality of life.

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