Targeted Life Skills in St Ronan's

St Ronans

Targeted Life Skills has been running in the Southern Trust area since January 2016. The aim of this service is to build resilience and self esteem with young people who have been deemed to be in need of intervention and support.  The service covers: Understanding Health, Decision Making, the Dangers of Risk Taking Behaviour, the Influence of the Media, Dealing with Difficult Emotions, and Relationships. There is an additional element of the programme which focuses on Harm Reduction and Substance Use. One of the most popular sessions currently is one on energy drinks, as they cause a lot of problems for young people’s attention within the school setting.

Nikki is the Start360 TLS Key Worker based in Lurgan and this is her experience:

The service has been fortunate to strike up extremely successful working relationships with some of the schools in the area.  St. Ronan’s College in Lurgan is one such school and has availed of the service from April 2016, when I was first approached by Caoimhe Devlin the Youth Support Worker within the school. Caoimhe is focused on helping to provide the students of St. Ronan’s College with the best possible support and engages outside agencies and programmes that aim to address the pastoral needs of the wider student body.  Caoimhe highly valued the aims of our programme and has been keen to promote it in the college whenever possible.  Since this working relationship began, there have been ten different groups of young people that have completed the programme.  The ages have ranged from 11 -15 years old, and all students completed at least four sessions of the programme.

One of the more popular sessions, 'Dealing with Difficult Emotions', enables young people to explore the complexities of their own ‘emotional life’.  This is achieved by identifying triggers and helping students see the need for emotional regulation through positive engagement with others, self care and awareness of their emotional state.  Some young people have stated they were ‘not aware that they had an internal voice’ and this awareness has helped them to improve their emotional state. 

Another session that was often delivered is 'Identifying the Dangers of Risk Taking Behaviour'. This is a very beneficial session as it allows the young people to become aware that their brains are still developing and the frontal lobe (the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and logical thinking) does not finish developing until they reach their mid-twenties.  As a result of this lack of ability to consider consequences, statistics show that young people are more likely to be involved in risk taking behaviour.  During this session young people’s perception of risk is explored and real life scenarios are presented to them.  The young people are then asked to consider what the consequences are, legal factors and how these behaviours impact on their future. This helps to give insight into the decisions that life will present them, and enables them to become more aware of choices and consequences.

There has been some great feedback from the students of St. Ronan’s College.

One student said, 'I feel like coming in to see you has helped me a lot because after the programme had finished, I started to behave better’.

Others said, ‘I wish I could do this programme every week for the whole year’ and ‘I really enjoyed looking at different ways to keep calm when I feel like I’m going mad'.

Caoimhe Devlin said, ‘Nikki works wonderfully within our school and provides an invaluable service to our young people'.

To find out more about Targeted Life Skills in the Southern Trust area, visit