2020 ESF case study: YouthActionNI - GET SET for Work 3

YouthAction NI’s GET SET for Work programme is a regional youth employability programme for young people aged 16 to 24 years who are outside of training, employment and education. Operating across all of YouthAction NI’s regional bases GET SET works in partnership with business, communities and young people to develop their skills for living, learning and work so that they can progress into employment or into further education and training.

GET SET is part financed through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

A difficult childhood

This participant had a very difficult childhood due to her parent’s alcohol addiction problems. She has had depression and anxiety since her teens and receives support from her local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team.

Rarely interacting with anyone, the participant spent all her time in her bedroom, only coming out to eat or to wash. She had difficulty making and keeping friends and this led a very lonely and isolated life.

It was during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown that the participant got involved in GET SET. At first she was very reluctant and anxious about getting involved but when she realised she would be interacting online this eased some of her anxieties.

Growing self-esteem

Although the participant would log on she needed a lot of initial encouragement and reassurance to get fully involved in the online group activities with the other young people. These activities focused on mental health and wellbeing as many young people were struggling with their mental health during lock down. Gradually with the support and the encouragement of her GET SET worker and the other young people she got more involved, taking part in quizzes, discussions and writing about lockdown. She made new friends in the group and her confidence and self-esteem began to grow.

As lockdown restrictions eased, the group was able to meet outdoors for ‘walk and talk days’ and outdoor team activities. This was a big turning point for the participant who before GET SET struggled to leave her bedroom.

As a result of GET SET, the participant has overcome her anxieties of meeting new people and being herself around others. She also pushed herself out of her comfort zone, which was her bedroom, by meeting outdoors and participating in teambuilding activities.

She says,

“It was nice getting out together with others and seeing what everyone else was up to during lockdown. It was fun being outside and doing things I wouldn’t normally do, I had a lot of fun with the people around me.”

Back in education

Through the support of GET SET, the participant is now back in education. She is also looking for a part time job and has already had her first interview. She continues to meet up with the other young people she met on the programme and participates in social events, which she had never previously been able to do because of her anxieties. Although she continues to receive support from the CAMHS team, she does not rely on them as much.

Describing her experience, the participant says,

“The GET SET programme gave me a place to talk to other people so I didn’t feel so alone. Setting goals helped me push myself and gave me the opportunity to do things outside my comfort zone with other young people. This has made me feel more comfortable in social situations. It has also really helped my confidence and made me feel happier in myself.”

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