Dundee charity Helm is celebrating 40 years of empowering young people to achieve their full potential in life.
Helm enables around 250 teenagers and young adults each year in making the best possible transition to adulthood.
When Helm was established in 1982, its initial focus was to ensure that disabled individuals in Dundee have equal opportunities.
Chief executive Ally Calder said: “Society views have changed. People now view those with disabilities as equals, so Helm doesn’t put as much of a focus on this.
“We have seen over a time disengagement with young people from school and not focusing on mainstream education.”
“We also want to help those who left school to engage in employment and for employers to engage with them. That’s where the focus has changed for us now.”
Helm builds confidence
The St Andrews Lane charity offers support to young people in education in S3-4 who plan to leave school and go into work.
People aged 16-25 can also attain fully accredited SQA vocational qualifications.
Helm’s range of facilities includes a garage and beautician for people to gain experience.
Ms Calder said: “This allows people to try different placements in various trades to see what they enjoy.”
“Around 60 employers in Tayside work with Helm to put young people on modern apprenticeships.
“It’s incredible. We can’t thank our employers enough for these opportunities, we wouldn’t be Helm without them.”
Felicity Hogg, 25, went to Helm in 2017 after leaving school early due to having a baby.
She said: “Helm helped me get qualifications which helped me on my academic journey and today I am a student at St Andrews University.”
Kerr Sangster attended Helm in 2006 when he was 15. He joined the army, where he stayed for almost five years.
He said: “If it weren’t for Helm, I’d have been in the jail or the ground.
“They didn’t need to help me, but they did.”
Helm tackling homelessness in Dundee
Ms Calder joined the organisation in 2020 after 20 years of working with homeless youths.
This experience has led Helm to form a partnership with Hillcrest Housing Association on a joint venture called Hame to look at youth-led housing in Dundee.
She said: “We are stopping the cycle of poverty and giving young people a better future.
“We have employed young people as part of the staff team.
The first young person has been housed through Hame, our first housing project. It has been a long road but the team, along with our partners @HillcrestScot, have worked so hard to make this a reality for young people in Dundee. https://t.co/C7uvjfdBTg
— Helm (@HelmDundee) March 4, 2022
“From the first idea, young people have been a part of the process, having their say, living independently and being trusted in their own houses.”
In the last two weeks, Hame housed its first two people and wants 12 people housed by the end of this year.
The 17 staff members at Helm recently became more aware of barriers impacting a young person’s chance of succeeding.
The charity now offers art therapy after a rise in young people suffering from mental health issues.
Ms Calder said: “The level of young people suffering from anxiety has blown us away. We were shocked.”
What’s next for Helm in Dundee?
The organisation plans to moving to larger premises in Dundee but this location is not finalised.
It is also refurbishing its current venue with plans to put in another beauty salon.
Helm has started working in Angus and is looking to develop its services into Fife.
The charity wants to grow its customer base across Dundee to support more young people in the future.
Ms Calder said: “For some people, Helm has saved their life.
“For others, it’s about finding a career in what they enjoy doing.”