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£1m to help troubled teenagers

Published 07/02/2013

ALMOST £1 million has been granted to help troubled teenagers in flashpoint areas of Belfast change their ways.

It is hoped the Big Lottery cash injection will get teenagers in deprived areas such as Ardoyne, Oldpark and Cliftonville off the streets and into further education.

Thomas Turley (29) whose Flax Street youth club received £469,845, said the money would fund accredited sport and music courses.

"It is vitally important. This is an opportunity to give some young people a chance to look at doing something different with their lifestyle," he said.

Mr Turley, a former rioter turned youth worker, said he was confident young people could be steered away from crime.

"I used to be one of these young people hanging about with nothing to do and no hope in sight. I ended up hanging about on the streets taking drugs and drinking. I got involved in rioting because I was attracted to the adrenaline and the buzz," he said.

"There was no-one there to tell me to stop and I just didn't care about any thing so I just went for it. I was given a community service order and referred to this youth club and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

"They showed me that I could make something of myself if I got my head down and I went on to get qualifications in youth work at university."

A total of nine projects that support young people who are at risk, in care, disengaged from education or involved in crime are expected to benefit from the £4.2m Big Lottery Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme. ■ CHANGED HIS WAYS: Ardoyne Youth Club's leader in charge Thomas Turley