Working with confident learners at Men’s Hostel, Belfast

bytes award

As part of the Key to Life programme, Bytes delivered a 7-week self-confidence and self-esteem 7-week course to participants in the Utility Street Men’s Hostel, Belfast. For these young men, homelessness is not just a housing issue but something that is intimately linked with complex and chaotic life experiences, including traumatic childhood, mental health problems, drug and alcohol dependencies and a lack of self-belief. Our goal was to work with participants to build self-esteem and confidence and use this relatively short period of engagement to develop behaviours that will allow participants to continue to grow their self-esteem individually.

Like all of our programmes, big or small, participants were encouraged to take part in an evaluation at the end of the course. Within a short period of time, Bytes staff developed a strong bond, and created a safe environment for participants to open up on current issues and associated feelings. Staff felt a connection with partakers and results indicate that this was mirrored by participants, who found staff ‘supportive and encouraging’. Participants used words such as ‘enjoyable’, ‘motivational’, ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’ to describe their overall experience working with our staff. The learning that took place was clearly beneficial for participants and this was reflected when they spoke about what they took away from the course. Comments included ‘better outlook on life’; ‘better understanding of ways to boost self-esteem’; ‘knowing how goal setting can boost self-confidence’; ‘make new friends.’ However, both the venue and the duration of the course were highlighted as areas for improvement. Participants felt they could have benefited from a longer course, as well as wanting to get out and have a change of scenery in a different environment. Findings reveal that the course was too short & a different venue would be ideal to avoid disruptions, and to provide a change of scenery.

‘Witnessing they joy, excitement, sense of purpose and benefits that the course brought to the lives of those that needed it, was priceless!’

Michelle McCann, Course Co-ordinator

Considering how participants described themselves as being in a better position to continue making changes to improve their self-confidence and self-esteem, the course unquestionably reached it expectations. It was visible to our staff how the structure, routine, and consistency of the course was a huge positive for participants. In their own words, they felt they ‘had something to get up for.’ The group showed nothing but respect to staff, fully participated and were always up for a great debate regarding relevant issues or topics. From the offset it was apparent that participants’ self-esteem and confidence were at rock bottom. Staff delivery methods adapted a positive gratitude theory, which was certainly required, and we felt this was a success. The group was an absolute pleasure to have worked with and the experience was very rewarding for staff as well.

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