Bytes uses creative ICT to engage socially excluded young people in Northern Ireland, helping them progress into education, training and employment.
Their National Lottery funding
The Bytes Project received £464,827 for their three-year Exodus 500 project, which is supporting young people aged 16 to 25 who are facing employment barriers in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Limavady, Magherafelt and Lisburn.
“They treat you with respect. Like equals.”
At 17 Anthony Turkington became homeless following some family problems. He moved between friends and other family members, getting involved in antisocial behaviour, and drug and alcohol abuse.
When he moved into temporary affordable accommodation in North Belfast he found unconditional support at Bytes, and he's been able to get his life back on track.
“I was reluctant when I first came here to Flax and I didn’t want to bother with anyone. I was into drugs and alcohol, because I didn’t have anything else to do. I was just flat, desperate.
“I have dyslexia, and if I wasn’t able to do something I just cracked up. I had left school without the qualifications I needed for further education. But Bytes helped me get back on track with qualifications. The people at Bytes taught me how to rise to the challenge and find creative ways to deal with the dyslexia.
“It’s really the people that make the difference. The youth workers at Bytes talk to you on your level instead of looking down on you. They treat you with respect. Like equals. They take your individual needs into consideration and work with you whatever way works for you.”
Anthony has now achieved his level two OCN in youth work and has applied to go to university in September to continue his studies. The Bytes project also helped him find work, and he's now an assistant retail manager.
He's currently setting up a youth forum for Bytes and will lead a group of around 14 young people, helping to steer the project.
“My motivation in wanting to do youth work comes from knowing the impact that Bytes had and continues to have on me, and knowing that it’s going to do the same for other young people who are struggling.”
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