Northern Ireland

Stepping Stones NI helping people with learning difficulties get into work

Patrick Ogunro says he is "a different person" after attending the youth service at Stepping Stones NI 
Patrick Ogunro says he is "a different person" after attending the youth service at Stepping Stones NI 

A MAN who overcame attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia to enter full-time employment has praised local charity Stepping Stones NI for their support.

Patrick Ogunro (22) has encouraged other young people with the conditions to get support to help them gain confidence and self-belief.

Patrick described how he struggled at school and did not understand why he lacked interest in his studies.

“At school I didn’t know what to do with myself and I felt that I was behind so I messed about," he said.

"When I left school I didn’t feel that I had any options but my Mummy found out about the Youth Service at Stepping Stones NI and it was probably the greatest thing I’ve ever done”.

Stepping Stones NI have been operating for twenty years supporting people with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, learning difficulties and learning disabilities to realise their full potential. Its award-winning Youth Service operates from its Lisburn base close to Wallace Park and offers up to five days of activity that includes mentoring, training, work placements and activities.

Patrick said “I’m a totally different person than I was ten years ago. Back then, I didn’t believe in myself but by attending the Youth Service for a year at Stepping Stones NI I made new friends, built confidence and developed new skills. The mentoring I received made me believe what I could achieve.  The staff there brought me to a higher level”.

Within one year at the Youth Service, Patrick completed training to develop independence such as money management and travel training.

“Before this training, I was nervous about getting on a bus, it sounds simple but it really made a difference to me” he said.  Patrick has also completed an OCN Level 1 in Youth and is now a volunteer with the Youth Service as he is keen to help other young people.  

As well as gaining new skills, entering employment was a major goal for Patrick. The Youth Service team secured a placement for him at Bob & Berts Café in Lisburn.  The placement was so successful that it resulted in full time employment for Patrick, which he has been enjoying for two years now. 

His manager Marina said: “Patrick is a great worker with a great sense of humour and always has a positive attitude.  He gets on well with his colleagues and is always willing to help when needed”.

Recalling his first day on the job Patrick said: “It was scary at first and a bit intimidating especially meeting the boss. I got great support from my mentors at Stepping Stones NI and got through the fear and never looked back. 

"Stepping Stones NI gave me a chance and if I hadn’t attended the Youth Service I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I hope other young people like me will read this and make contact with the team as it can really change your life”.

The Stepping Stones NI Youth Service team can be contacted on 028 92 666 404 or by emailing Shannen Donnelly, Youth Service Coordinator on with further information available at