Belfast Harbour has demonstrated its commitment to young people by providing a 3-year support package for Development Awards, a Prince’s Trust initiative to help tackle financial barriers preventing them from accessing education, training or employment.
Shannon Robinson, age 19, received a Development Award and like many young people locally she found the programme to be a huge turning point in her life.
Shannon received a diagnosis of dyslexia when she was 17; however this came too late for her to receive the additional support she required in school. She had been enrolled in a course at tech but after struggling with her mental health was forced to leave when she was admitted into hospital.
Shannon joined The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge Programme and at the time was registered as homeless, suffering with anxiety, depression and panic attacks. However Shannon did not let this stop her from moving forward. She worked hard on the programme, moved into a house of her own and decided to pursue a course in Nails and Beauty.
As she had no financial support other than her benefits she would never have been able to afford the kit required to start the course. However she was able to apply for a Development Award that paid for the kit she needed and text books.
In the future she hopes to pass the beauty course and either move on to a higher level or do well enough in her placement to be offered a position. In her own words;
“This would be amazing”. She also added; “I'm so thankful for the Development Award because without it I wouldn't be doing what I am today and my mental health would have deteriorated. It helps to know that people and organisations are out to help me, Thank you so much for giving me a chance at life I couldn't be more happy!"
The Prince’s Trust Development Awards offer grants to 14 to 25-year-olds across Northern Ireland to help fund activities that increase employment prospects. These activities include the funding of tools or equipment for a job application, college course fees, clothes for a job interview, childcare costs, license fees and transport to a new job.
The contributions made to the programme by local businesses are vital to determining how many Development Awards across the province can be made.
Jenni Barkley, Belfast Harbour said:
“There are too many young people in our society who – through no fault of their own – find it difficult to access employment and training opportunities. The Prince’s Trust Development Awards overcomes this by providing practical help and support. Belfast Harbour is delighted to support a programme which has proven itself to be so effective at giving people the chance to improve their education and employment prospects.”
The Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training. The Prince of Wales’s charity has helped 825,000 young people since 1976 and supports over 100 more each day. Further information about The Prince’s Trust is available at princes-trust.org.uk or on 0800 842 842.