DCSIMG

Bringing some hope to youngsters who need it

Linda Markey (right) and Deborah Terras at UR Potenial, Central Drive, Blackpool.

Linda Markey (right) and Deborah Terras at UR Potenial, Central Drive, Blackpool.

  • by Paul Baldwin
 

Linda Markey is almost bursting with pride when she talks about some of UR Potential’s successes.

The organisation helps people of all ages, but particularly the many youngsters in the town who are struggling to cope with the harsh realities of today’s society – lack of jobs and widespread poverty.

“We are about giving the people of Blackpool the opportunity to reach their potential,” said Linda, who founded UR Potential with fellow youth worker Debbie Terras in 2010.

“We are about moving people into education and employment, and making sure individuals become active citizens and really good members of their own community.”

The statistics speak for themselves. In 2013, 500 young people signed up for volunteering courses, 300 gained an accredited certificate, 50 went into further education, and 40 got jobs.

When they walked into the UR Potential office, 136 people were NEET (Not In Education, Employment or Training) – they are now back in education.

“Blackpool has problems,” said Linda, “because of a few reasons I think.

“First the transient population – people move around Blackpool itself as well as coming in and out. Then there is the winter culture of claiming benefits because of the seasonal nature of jobs.

“And on top of that we’ve got young people coming through that are second and third generation with no earners in the family.

“But if look at our figures. OK, they are not massive but they are better than a lot. To get 40 young people back into work and 136 people back into school and doing stuff ... those are kids that might have gone the other way had we not been there to help.”

Young people come to UR Potential two ways – they either walk through the door of their own accord or are referred by other bodies such as Streetlife, Groundwork or the Youth Offending Team.

Funded by a combination of National Lottery money and the Tudor Trust, and commissioned by Blackpool and Lancashire councils to deliver training, UR Potential is one of many local groups trying to help youngsters in the resort.

“We invest a lot of time and money into local youngsters,” Lynda added.

“We want them to have a really good sustainable job created here, a job they’re proud to have, and for them to be proud to be part of Blackpool.”

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