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Lilly Ring - Stepping Out

For Lilly Ring, the Stepping Out programme run by National Learning Network in Athlone, saved her from a life of hard drugs. Before starting the course she admits that she “in an awful way, going down a very bad road.” Since September 2013 Lilly has been taking part in the Stepping Out programme in the Belhavel centre in Athlone town, a programme specifically designed to assist people who have been to prison or who are on probation to rebuild their lives.

Lilly says, “We do lots of modules: communications, offending behaviour, maths, art, IT, food and nutrition and a lot more.  I’m doing childcare, human growth and development and a lot more.  For me the programme is about getting back into society, knowing that there’s hope for me, that there’s hopes for everybody.  I’ve done other courses but I didn’t get the same support. Here the instructors tell me more. They support me. I was never told about college before. We have time here and that’s what I need, time. I’m learning new skills and I’m meeting people.  When I started here I had no confidence, but it has grown since I started”.

For Lilly, the one of the best things about the course is the relationships with others on the course and the instructors, “I love coming here every day. Everybody enjoys it.  We laugh every day, even with the instructors. That’s the main thing, that you can have a laugh! And they instructors are really help us. They always remind us that the office door is always open, and we can talk to them even after hours”.

Lilly’s goals are “to go to college and to get a job”.  In relation to her previous drug use, the she says, “I’m linking in with CADS (Community Alcohol and Drug Services).  I’ve reduced my cannabis use and I’ve started Smoking Cessation workshops since starting on the Stepping Out.”