Prince's Trust project is back in Ballymena

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

A twelve-week personal development programme for young people aged 16-24 returns to Ballymena this February.

‘Team’ is a Prince’s Trust programme run by Northern Regional College.

This free course is an opportunity for young people to gain new skills, take a qualification and meet new people.

Participants will work together on a group community project, take part in work experience and develop their English and Maths skills.

Tiernán Heffron, aged 21, is a singer and songwriter from Randalstown.

Before Covid, he spent his weekends playing gigs but was out of routine during the week which left him feeling frustrated.

His aunt told him about the Team programme and suggested it could be a good way to spend his time during the week to learn new skills and meet people.

“I was a bit lost and didn’t have any direction. Now I’m doing something I love every day and can’t thank the Team programme enough.

“Before taking part in Team, I didn’t have any idea what it would be like or who would be on the programme, but I thought it was worth giving it a try to get something to do during the week. I really enjoyed it and made some great friends.

“The leader was brilliant which made me want to come in every day as I felt it was like going to meet my friends.

“We took part in community projects that allowed me to play my music and we helped transform the garden of a nursing home so it was really rewarding.”

Tiernán always wanted to work with young people with additional needs but didn’t know how to go about getting a job in that field.

EXPERIENCE

As part of the Team programme, he secured a placement in a school for students with additional needs and got valuable work experience.

“Initially I went to the school for just one day of work experience, but they kept inviting me back to play my music for the pupils.

“I got speaking to the staff about how I could become a classroom assistant and found out about a course I could do.

“I started the course and within a few weeks was lucky that a full-time job came up in the school and I was offered it.

“ I’ve now found a real niche within the school working with pupils with severe learning difficulties, it is so rewarding.”

Tiernán can fit his music in around his job and recently signed a record contract in America.

“The hours of my job leave me with plenty of time to work on my music.

“I never thought that live music would disappear, but despite that happening because of Covid, I still have a steady income. Although I’ve not been able to play live music I spent a lot of time writing and recording music during lockdown.

“The Team programme gave me such a boost of confidence and allowed me to follow my dreams. I would recommend it to any young person who needs a bit of direction, I’d suggest they forget any preconceptions about it and just give it a try.”

The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is open to young people aged between 16 and 24 who are not in full time education or employment.

The programme will take place for twelve weeks from 22nd February at the Northern Regional College campus in Ballymena. To find out more and register please contact Andrew Woodside on 07554118643, email andrew.woodside@nrc.ac.uk or search ‘Prince’s Trust Team’ at www.nrc.ac.uk.

The Prince’s Trust helps young people all over the UK to build their confidence and skills and supports them into jobs, education and training. Founded by The Prince of Wales in 1976, the charity supports 11 to 30 year olds.

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