from Belfast, Co. Antrim is a sixth year student from St Louise’s Comprehensive College and was motivated by a simple question put to her by a mentor at St. James’s Community Forum. When asked how she contributed to her community, she couldn’t answer. Caitlin took that moment and adapted her lifestyle from what she considered a ‘cool teenager’ just hanging around streets with her friends, to a hardworking and valuable contributor to her community.
Caitlin used her experience of anti-social behaviour and its impacts on communities to highlight the realities of drug and alcohol abuse and the homelessness crisis in Belfast. She engaged with external agencies to gain advice and information for her and other young people at the St James’s Community Youth Forum on how best to aid homeless people, and how they as a group could adapt their approach to people in this vulnerable position. Caitlin began by distributing warm clothes, sleeping bags and hot food to homeless people in the city and she also embarked on a fundraising campaign to enable her to further her work. This included ‘Welcome to Belfast’ gifts for refugees and she has also organised a Christmas dinner for young people in her community in a local restaurant.
“Caitlin has developed into a stronger, more mature, responsible young lady who wants to give something back to her community,” said School principal Mary McHenry. “She is making a positive contribution to her school and her community and has made huge positive changes to her own life and others.”