Martin left school at the age of 15 due to difficulties with his father who had an alcohol problem. With no qualifications and no prospects for the future, Martin started taking drugs and got into trouble with the Police for shoplifting. After months of family conflict, Martin left home and went to stay with friends. With little in the way of support Martin felt scared and isolated. He contacted YASP who helped him secure a place in a local foyer scheme. Four years on and Martin has a tenancy of his own. He recently completed his A Levels (2B‚Äôs and 1C), and is now undertaking a Degree in Sports Science with the University of Ulster. Martin‚Äôs goal is to run the London Marathon this year. Martin, age 20 (Service User YASP) Many young people who are homeless have, for reasons beyond their control, missed out on some of their schooling. They now lack the necessary qualifications to find secure employment. For other young people, traumatic life events and their experience of homelessness has deskilled and isolated them, resulting in a destructive cycle of unemployment, mental health problems, addiction and offending, which has prevented them from taking control of their lives and moving on. At First Housing, we believe education and training are crucial to helping young people who are homeless to equip themselves with the skills they need to find and sustain work. By engaging young people in education and training we hope to enhance their independence and future employability and help them move forward with their lives.
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Our Youth Accommodation Support Project (YASP) works with a high proportion of young people who have had difficult childhood experiences, including young people coming out of residential care, parents with mental health problems, family breakdown, frequent moves, conflict with parents and step parents, violence within the home and sexual abuse. Many of the young people we work with because of their past life experiences, their family circumstances, poor self-esteem and low educational attainments find it hard to access appropriate training and work opportunities. Young people who are homeless and/or living in temporary accommodation, and young people who are coming out of care require intensive support, and a more flexible model of learning to build on their interests and capabilities, while taking account of individual needs and experiences. Our Training for Work Scheme is aimed at removing some of the barriers that have prevented or discouraged young people who are homeless from participating in pre-employment services. ‚ÄòTraining for Work‚Äô has been developed specifically for young people aged 16-25 years who are unemployed and receiving support through YASP. The Scheme, when launched will offer a flexible menu of work related options and activities, namely customised and accredited training; a range of recognised vocational qualifications; a work experience programme and ‚Äòone to one‚Äô support. By engaging young people in training and education we hope to help build the self-esteem and belief that positive change is possible. Training for Work, incorporating training, vocational qualifications and a work placement programme will encourage young people in crisis to leave behind negative past behaviours, experiences and peer influences, and give them structure, purpose and meaning in their lives. We also believe Training for Work and the delivery of work experience, opportunities for volunteering and one to one support will provide young people who are homeless with an opportunity to enhance their skills, build their self-confidence and obtain qualifications for them to find a job and enhance their independence. We have submitted applications to Comic Relief, the Irish Youth Foundation and the Santander Foundation, totalling ¬£65,000. However, for us to run Programme over an 18 month period, commencing June 2010 and ending December 2011 we still need ¬£55,000 so that young people who are homeless and in crisis are given the opportunity to realise and achieve their potential.
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