Youth Action NI helping Waterside young people

Pictured from left, Georgie Mullen, Connor McGilloway (Young Men's Development Officer - Youth Action NI), Emma Johnston (Young Women's Development Worker - Youth Action NI) and Laura Murphy.

Pictured from left, Georgie Mullen, Connor McGilloway (Young Men's Development Officer - Youth Action NI), Emma Johnston (Young Women's Development Worker - Youth Action NI) and Laura Murphy.

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Up until two years ago, street drinking and violence were part of everyday life for Georgie Mullen.

Twenty-two year-old Georgie doesn’t shy away from the person he used to be and while he may have regrets for what he did in the past he is refusing to let it shape his future.

Georgie is a father to his two year-old son and his seven week-old girl and lives with his partner in the Waterside.

“I was in and out of care from no age and I was an absolute nightmare at school,” said Georgie who is originally from Strabane.

“I was a street drinker from the age of 13 up until I was 19 or 20. I’d been in and out of prison for breaking into houses, was in trouble with the police and was always getting into fights. It wasn’t a nice life to be honest.”

Two years ago, Georgie met Emma Johnston from Youth Action NI.

“If it wasn’t for the help and support I get from Emma [Johnston] and Connor [McGilloway] at Youth Action NI I don’t know where I would be today.

“People say such and such changed their life but I can hand on heart say Youth Action changed my life.

“Since enrolling about two years ago I have improved my reading and writing skills, I’ve a first aid qualification and six weeks ago I got a job working for Derry City Council.

“Honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you what it’s like having a job and self-respect. I know what I did in the past was wrong and I am trying to do something about it now. I’ve two children to look after now and my only ambition in life now is to continue to work hard, look after my family and stay out of trouble,” he said hopefully.

Twenty year-old Laura Murphy is from Nelson Drive. Laura is also foster parent to her 13 year-old twin brother and sister.

“Enrolling with Youth Action NI is perhaps one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It’s tough looking after my brother and sister but when I come here every Wednesday I think of it as my ‘me time’,” said Laura.

“I’ve been on the dole since I was 18 but by enrolling with Youth Action NI I have been able to try out many different things. However, the one thing Youth Action has done for me is improve my self-belief. With the help of Youth Action NI I want to become a counsellor who works with families that are going through break-up. I’ve experienced it first hand and I would like to help children who are going through the same thing,” added Laura.

Youth Action NI is a not for profit organisation that works with young people aged 16 and older who are either unemployed or who are not in education or training.

The Derry branch of Youth Action NI is based in the Ebrington Centre in the Waterside.

The Derry programme is exclusive to the Waterside and is run by Young Men’s Development Worker, Connor McGilloway and Young Women’s Development Worker, Emma Johnston.

“Emma and Connor are like big brothers and sisters to us,” Laura and Georgie agreed.

“The support they give us is like no other - they are always there for us,” both Laura and Georgie smiled.

For more information on Youth Action NI contact Connor McGilloway or Emma Johnston on 028 7131 8854.

Youth Action NI is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs.