£500,000 boost for NW youth charity HURT
A support group which works with vulnerable young people in the north west has been awarded a grant of almost £500,000 by the Big Lottery Fund.
HURT supports young people in Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane who are dealing with alcohol and drug addiction.
The money will allow the charity to run preventative courses in schools and community groups.
It will also help young people gain educational qualifications.
One 18-year-old, who did not want to be identified, came to HURT after dealing with depression and alcohol addiction following time in care.
"While in care I was abused and as a result it affected my whole life.
"I felt like an outsider, I could not trust those close to me - I just did not feel normal.
"I battled depression and was dependent on alcohol to get through the day.
"I was referred to HURT and they offered me therapy and counselling sessions, as well as acupuncture which really helped to relax me.
"They helped me realise I was not to blame for what had happened and they have helped me become a stronger person.
"I'm now training to be a youth worker and I want to use my experiences to help other young people facing similar circumstances.
"None of this would have been possible without HURT's support," he said.
HURT centre manager, Dessie Kyle, said there was an "extensive problem" with alcohol and addiction in the north west.
"There are a lot of issues with young people dropping out of school and living on the fringes of society and this can lead to anti social behaviour and on-street drinking.
"Over the last ten years we have had more than 1500 people with addiction issues attend our centre for treatment and 25% of them have been under the age of 25.
"It is never too early to tackle the issue if the people you are talking to are already involved in anti-social drinking.
"This project is about prevention and supporting young people to make the right choices early in their lives," he said.
Rainbow Health Limited, which works to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of gay, bisexual and non-heterosexual men, was awarded £155,737 to run education courses and personal development programmes for young people aged 15-20 in Derry.