Fears for project that has helped hundreds of vulnerable young Dundee folk get jobs

Jamie Glass (20) and his mum Pam (51)

There are fears a project that has helped hundreds of vulnerable youngsters in the city find work will have to be axed amid a lack of funding.

The Next Steps Project, which was supported by the Big Lottery Fund, helped young people with a range of issues — from struggling to find work to coping with drugs and alcohol problems.

The funding comes to an end on November 30, leaving organisers fearing that hundreds more Dundee youngsters will lose a vital support network.

 

Mary Hamilton, of Manhattan Works-based Dundee Employment and Aftercare (DEAP), which runs the Next Steps Project, said she fears that if it closes, some troubled young people may “slip through the net”.

She said: “We are very grateful to the Big Lottery for funding this project for the past six years. However, we are very concerned that the ending of funding will result in a significant loss to young people in Dundee.

“Thanks to the funding, we have been able to help about 900 vulnerable young people with a variety of issues around housing, employment, health, education, drugs and alcohol.

“It has been a fantastic project and our fears are that many more city young people will now slip through the net and not get the help they may need to secure their futures.”

The project supports people aged 15-25 and offers them the chance to learn a variety of life skills. These include employability training, independent living and certificated training

The project also gives young people the chance to take part in organised outings, arts and crafts, sports and cooking sessions.

Mary said: “We have successfully assisted literally hundreds of youngsters in the past.

“We currently have around another 100 on our books, but the support we can offer them through Next Steps will have to come to an end.”

Mary said DEAP is continuing to try to find funding to take the project forward and is working hard to get the young people the organisation is working with assistance from other groups in the city.

She said: “There aren’t too many places out there, which leaves us very concerned about where so many of these young people will get help in the future.”

Among those working with the project is 20-year-old Jamie Glass, from Broughty Ferry.

Jamie, who has learning difficulties, said he had received a lot of support from the project.

He left school at 16, was referred to college for a life skills course and then found out about Next Steps.

Jamie said: “I’ve been coming here for more than a year and I love it.

“They have helped me so much and I’m really disappointed that the ending of the funding may mean that many others won’t get the support and help that I’ve had.

“I’ve been coming here two to three times a week, so not coming here will leave a big hole in my life.”

Jamie’s mum, Pam, 51, said she noticed a big difference in Jamie after he started attending the project.

She said: “Before going, Jamie really lacked confidence.

“Now, however, his confidence alone has grown enormously.

“When he first started going, he didn’t even have the confidence to walk into the building himself. Now, he doesn’t give it a second thought and is happy to do so much more by himself.

“Coming here gives some shape to his day, otherwise I think he might just sit at home and play computer games all day.

“It’s really disappointing this lottery funding is ending.”

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