When you have a mission and vision that comes from the heart, then you will do everything with purpose, emotion and determination!
I want to share Dreamscheme's heart and vision with you. It can be summed up in one sentence:
Our vision is to bring hope, inspiration and opportunity to at-risk young people, and healing to broken communities in the greater Belfast area.
But let me dig a little deeper into what we mean...
1. Bringing hope
Young people need hope. I suppose we all do!
At Dreamscheme we work with teenagers aged 13 - 18 years and the majority of these young people have little hope - in fact, many are struggling with a wide variety of negative influences and disadvantages. Many lack stable home environments. They have few people to talk to about their problems and fears. Many are vulnerable to exploitation by criminal or harmful groups. Many receive little encouragement and support through these critical years and as a result see no positive future for themselves. The majority of young people are dealing with personal issues such as anger, low-self esteem, lack of self-confidence, body-image issues, relationship problems and anxiety. Often, these young people hang around hot spots late at night and engage in anti-social behaviour with drug and alcohol misuse.
Dreamscheme exists to bring hope into these young people's lives and help them to overcome their challenges and disadvantages. We approach youth work with a Christian perspective and ethos. Through our work, we seek to bring love and hope into their lives. We encourage them, listen to them and believe in them. We want young people to know that they are full of value, dignity and potential. We want them to look to the future with hope!
Through our weekly work projects, drop-ins and trips, our youth workers are able to build positive, caring relationships with the teenagers that participate in the Dreamscheme programme. In each of our centres, we seek to create a safe space for them to share their fears, worries and struggles.
One young person once said, "Dreamscheme gave me hope when others seemed to walk away", and I believe that we can continue to give that kind of hope to the "hopeless" in the many years to come!
2. Giving inspiration
Not only do we seek to deal with the negative influences and issues that young people are facing, but we strive to provide a positive and encouraging influence that is often lacking in their lives. Many young people have become de-motivated and show little or no interest in school. They do not have aspirations to succeed in education, to find a career that is best for them, or to develop their musical, sporting and artistic talents! At Dreamscheme we want to inspire and challenge young people to think about their lives and to begin to fulfil their potential. It's not easy, but we want to walk with struggling young people through their teenage years - supporting them, championing them, inspiring them!
I'm really excited about our plans for 2016. Not only will our youth work team continue to encourage, mentor and inspire our young people on a weekly basis, but we will also be inviting a wide range of inspiring people in Northern Ireland to contribute to our projects! Through this, young people will gain insights into different life journeys, different career pathways and interact first hand with inspiring, successful, purposeful people from all spheres - from business leaders to social changers, from health professionals to sports professionals, from musicians to artists! If anyone is interested in getting involved in this please do get in touch!
3. Providing opportunity
Can you remember the first time someone gave you an opportunity to show your potential? Or what about the first time someone encouraged you to step outside of your comfort zone and backed you the whole way as you did something important, something life-changing, something wonderful?
At Dreamscheme, we want to provide big, meaningful opportunities for our young people so that they can gain new experiences, develop new skills and begin to see their own incredible potential!
Throughout 2016 we will be organising a range of creative, educational, environmental, entrepreneurial and community projects, in which young people will be challenged to develop as individuals while making a positive difference in the lives of others.
Through our project work, community events and trips, we will continue to create opportunities for young people to build new or develop existing relationships with people from other cultures, religious backgrounds and age groups.
4. Bringing healing to broken communities
Communities are healed and transformed one person at a time. We do not believe in bringing about shallow, superficial healing to broken communities in Northern Ireland.
By bringing hope, giving inspiration and by providing opportunities we believe that these young people will develop and mature socially, emotionally, spiritually and physically, and will be the cause of healing and transformation in the many broken communities around us!
That's our vision. But we can't do it alone.
Visit our website to find how you can support Dreamscheme.
*You can also support us by joining us at our Christmas Bake Sale from 9.30am-12.30pm on Saturday 12th December at The Unit, 76 Ravenswood Park, Braniel!
Stephen Mullan, Operations Manager @ Dreamscheme