11 December 2019 | North West England
Motivational youth charity keeping kids on the right path
Helping the next generation fulfil their true potential is the motivation which guides those who run the Priority Youth Project based in Liverpool.
They work with children and young people aged eight to 25, but particularly focus on those aged 13 to 19. The aim is to deter them from engaging in antisocial or criminal behaviors and foster a sense of community.
The charity operates out of two centres across the city as well as two primary schools, a summer/half term programme and a detached team. Youngsters can take advantage of educational workshops, learn life and employability skills and get support with CV writing, interview skills for employment.
Meanwhile, their Moving Forwards scheme involves taking their own specially-adapted bus to trouble hotspots.
Director Sarah Hughes says: “We take the bus out wherever they are hanging around. It is somewhere for them to chill, have a hot chocolate, and come and talk to us if they need to and build relationships from there. For the older ones we work with Young Addaction and discuss things like alcohol awareness and we also can use it as a hub where kids can come and do homework.”
Youth worker Tom Mahamotho, 25, first started coming along to the project as a youngster before he started working for them. He now mentors hundreds of youngsters every year in a bid to keep them on the right path.
He helps with homework and coaches them football and is seen as a role model by all. Yet his life could easily have taken a different turn after he tragically lost both parents when he was just 15. As he admits himself, “everyone expected I would go off the rails - but I didn’t.”
First Tom’s mother died unexpectedly aged 37 and then six months later his father died. “My dad died the night before my 16th birthday from liver complications. It was also GCSE year and my world came crashing in. You can imagine it was really tough.”
Staff who formed Priority Youth Project immediately stepped up their support for Tom after his loss. “They checked in on me constantly, helped me get training and kept me occupied by giving me a role as a youth worker. There wasn’t anything they didn’t do to help me and my siblings.
“Taking my scenario, most people would expect me to have gone down another route. But I had the support as a young person and being a youth worker and my mental health came on leaps and bounds.”
Tom went on to be offered first a part time and then a full time role working with the project and grabbed the opportunity to help. He is grateful to Sarah and Will Grant who took a special interest in his early situation. “For me it has gone full circle. Now I am a youth worker I can see what they saw in me and how important it is to help your local community.
They chose to intervene and do what they could to help, especially Sarah. Because they helped me, just one person, it means I am able to go on and try and make a difference to hundreds of others.”