15-year-old Alex Whyte from Loanhead has defied the odds. After not having attended high school at all, he has now gained skills accreditation and started volunteering regularly.
He is one of eight young people who have completed their Animal Care assessments with Bridges Project during the lockdown. The Animal Care training programme is offered by the charity to young people in order to give them social skills, knowledge of animals and a certificate for their CV. For many, this certificate is the only item they have on their CV.
Completing this training programme is a particularly impressive achievement for a young person who has never been to high school.
When Alex first started using Bridges Project’s services in March 2019, it was the first organised activity he had come to in years. No type of formalised learning seemed to work for the 15-year-old, who also has ADHD. Bridges Project nevertheless turned out to be a place where his achievements were recognised.
‘Bridges Project has made me able to make friends and enjoy learning more. Now I am able to learn quicker and I feel more relaxed’, says Alex.
He also thinks that participating in the charity’s Animal Care training programme has massively improved his confidence.
‘I wouldn’t have been half as confident without Animal Care. I feel more confident in my actions and when talking to other people. I am also getting along better with other people now,‘ says Alex.
Because of his increased confidence, he has also started volunteering for Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World once a week. This experience, organised by Lasswade High School, is another triumph for someone who until recently was totally disengaged from all activities for several years.
‘I am really impressed by Alex’s progress. This is a person who came from a place of total non-engagement’, says Susan Kerr, who is Alex’s Tutor at Bridges Project.
She has been working with Alex for over a year and has overseen his completion of three units of the Animal Care training programme. Susan is particularly impressed by the resilience shown by Alex and others who have completed their Animal Care assessments during the lockdown.
‘It is pretty amazing how they have carried on in this environment. It has not been easy for them but they have still done it. While many people are apathetic during the lockdown and quite low on motivation, these young people have demonstrated that they feel that they are in control when studying for their Animal Care units. They have managed to develop independent learning skills and to maintain these,’ she says.
Alex takes a keen interest in animals and wants to work with them in the future. Undertaking the Animal Care training programme has increased his knowledge about animals, taught him about more aspects of animal care and consolidated his wish to work within this field. Volunteering at Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World might just be the perfect first step for him to realise his dream!