Switch Onto... Celebrating

The families, friends and staff of Start360's Switch Onto Employment service came together on Thursday 11 August to celebrate the work and achievements of the young people who have taken part in the SOE programme over the past year.

Each of these young people has been exposed to a range of barriers throughout their education, so the qualifications being presented to them have been achieved by their own engagement, goal setting and hard work.

Anne-Marie McClure, Chief Executive of Start360, says, ‘It’s a pleasure to be presenting our SOE young people with their certificates. Each one of them has worked hard, with the full support of the staff team, and should be rightly proud of what they have achieved. Everyone at Start360 wishes them well with whatever their futures hold.’

Eirinn is 22 and says, ‘Since I joined Start360 I've gained a lot of confidence and overcome things I never thought I could. I had a fear of going back into education after having left it at 16, but from the moment I set foot inside I have never felt so welcomed and actually felt like someone cared and wanted me to do well. I've achieved many things in Start360 but the biggest thing I achieved was confidence and the ability to challenge myself! I can't thank the staff enough for everything they have done for me - they believed in me when I myself didn't! The best thing a tutor can do is teach from the heart and not a book, and I can gladly say the team at SOE have done exactly that.’

Daryl is 19 and says, ‘When I first started SOE I was very nervous, but the staff reassured me. I met a lot of friends and I achieved my goals I set myself - Level 1 in Literacy and Numeracy - and I am now working on my Level 2 Youth Work. I’ve got confidence now because of Start360 and I’m very sad it has come to an end. It’s been the best year of my life, and they have been like a family to me.’

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said, ‘The Switch Onto Employment service gives young people a second chance at education. Not everyone leaves school with the grades needed for employment. This service provides another opportunity. Through programmes such as this, young people can improve their literacy and numeracy skill levels, gain confidence and look forward to securing sustained and meaningful employment. For the staff involved, it is a more dedicated service and I commend them for their hard work.’