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Jobs for the Boys

Documentary following three unemployed young Protestant men from east Belfast as they embark on a pioneering educational project which could change their lives.


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The Titanic was the most famous ship ever built.

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It was built ten minutes away from my house.

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We live in the shadow of it.

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We didn't do it, our forefathers and all did.

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We didn't do nothing, we just get to live in the glory of it.

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Like, you picture it, back in the day,

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there was hundreds of thousands of people blocking up Dee Street

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and all them other roads getting to work.

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You see now, it's a ghost town.

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In our towns and cities,

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just one in every five Protestant boys from working-class areas

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leave school with five GCSEs above grade C.

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Whenever I came out of school I thought it would have been easy to get a job.

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It's not.

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The only way you're going to get a job now is if you go back for

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further education.

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Three young men from East Belfast are going back to the classroom.

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They'll be taking on the biggest educational challenge of their lives.

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Yeah , fair enough, people came out of school years ago and went

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straight into jobs, but now I feel it's impossible

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to come out of school and go straight into something.

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It makes me jealous.

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Actually, it does.

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Look at all the hard work you have to do now to get a job.

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What are yous all meeting about?

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They're so slippery, like.

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Skye, come here.

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Good girl.

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They mightn't take to it at first,

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but it's the only way to tame them down properly.

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In a way I prefer the company of animals than people.

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I suffer from bad anxiety at times.

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Go on. Good lad.

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It's not easy because if I can't deal with it,

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it can turn into a panic attack, so it can.

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That's when the lights go out.

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By the age of 14, Aaron had moved school eight times.

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It got to a point where I was told I was moving house again,

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I just turned upside down, really.

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My whole world just turned upside down.

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The thought of doing the whole process all over again,

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all the studying,

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all the new faces, everything.

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No chance.

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So I didn't get any GCSEs.

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I just gave up. I just left.

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I turned my back on the whole education system.

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When he left school, Aaron made a living from various jobs.

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Oh, good girl.

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Monkey see, monkey do.

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I just started them becoming tame.

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But in the past three years, he's found it impossible to get work.

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Spending too much time by yourself is a wee bit too unhealthy, so it is.

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And a wee job would sort that out, so it would.

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Over the next four months, Aaron and two other young men

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are taking part in a course.

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Hello. Come on in.

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It could open the door to new opportunities.

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-How are you?

-It's trying something new.

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I mean, I'm quite nervous that I might screw something up.

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Hello.

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-I'm Stephen.

-I'm Samuel.

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Nice to meet you, Samuel.

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What we do is we teach people to build things

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and we can build almost anything.

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The course is run by Fab Lab, an international outreach programme

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that teaches digital manufacturing.

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Meeting new people the first day

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is always awkward because you don't know how it's going to turn out.

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But it's like walking into school on your first day.

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I'm Paddy by the way.

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-John.

-Good to meet you.

-Sammy.

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Good to meet you.

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So what we're going to make, the very first thing is a key ring.

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Everything you see, whether it be the table that you're sitting at,

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the games arcade, the things that are hanging from the gantry,

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have all been made using this very, very simple process.

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So it all starts with this one.

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Aaron, John and Sammy will learn how to use cutting-edge machines

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like 3D printers and laser cutters.

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I don't even know what I'm doing.

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What just happened?

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I don't know what you have done, mate.

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If you're in, click on the black arrow. There we go.

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If they can master the technology,

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they'll earn themselves a qualification in digital fabrication.

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I have seen from my own experience whenever I was teaching in schools,

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the formal learning environment,

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the rigidity is probably a big part of why certain people,

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I don't want to say fail, but it doesn't work for them.

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What we do is we look at the person that's presented in front of us

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and we try and engage with them on their level.

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-I can work at those.

-Oh, aye.

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That's looking good.

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That's class, like.

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No-one is saying it's going to be easy.

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No-one is saying there is a magic switch,

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we can flick it and everything is better again,

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but a start has to be made somewhere, you know.

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School knocked my confidence down a hell of a lot.

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Being told you're not smart enough to do things and all.

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All the pressure of, like, getting coursework and all done.

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Just... I didn't like it at all.

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I can't blame school on everything, but, you know...

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I can't say I didn't...

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..mess up a good bit of it myself.

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Sammy left school with Cs and Ds and five GCSEs.

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He has been on the dole since.

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I've never even had a job in my life.

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Like, my granny, she's 84,

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and she worked in a mill as soon as she came out of primary school.

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Back then there wasn't such a thing as qualifications, you know.

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What even is a qualification really, you know?

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What's the point of it? That's what I think.

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GAME: Don't let the targets reach the firing zone.

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Some of them have sort of fallen so far through the cracks that they are

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incredibly hard to reach.

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No wonder the guys aren't that interested.

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-Come on.

-Aw, Paddy, are you serious?

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Without frightening you, or, you know, putting you off anything, OK,

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we're going to do a qualification, all right?

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And it's a level two and it's called introduction to digital fabrication.

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It will all be marked and then a couple of weeks later

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you'll get your nice, shiny new certificate.

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-Do you know what time it is?

-Don't know.

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-Lunch-time.

-Lunch-time? Fed up talking?

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Our food is sitting there, mate, and it's getting cold.

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-The food's sitting there.

-Priorities.

-OK.

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But before we go for lunch,

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is everyone clear enough on that and what we're going to be doing?

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-Yes.

-Happy enough?

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We've just got to keep them hanging on in there.

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Even if sometimes it's by the fingernails, you keep them there.

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MUSIC PLAYS

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It's my beat. So...

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There, work from that.

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But it is quite tricky sometimes.

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You need to find motivation from places

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and sometimes it's pretty hard,

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but...

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It's all right at the minute.

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I've got a lot of stuff going on so I just write about that.

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"If it should be that I grow weak

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"And the pain should keep me from my sleep

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"Then you must do what must be done

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"For this lost battle cannot be won."

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When I was younger I used to get bullied, so I had to leave that

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school and went to a different school, and I didn't want to go

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through secondary school the way I went through primary school.

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So, I just had to put an end to it one way or another.

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I don't like fighting at all. I hate the fact that it was the only way,

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but at that time it was the only way.

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It's not very good that I got expelled two days before the end of school.

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I did get six, seven GCSEs, all important ones.

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# This is concrete jungle

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# So, every day is a... #

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John trained as a chef,

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but he has been out of a job since

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he was made redundant four years ago.

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It just makes me feel like school is a waste of time.

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# I feel like dancin'

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# In the moonlight, baby

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# Only if you want to dance with me, girl

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# Some... #

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He's also worried the past could be holding him back.

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When I was 18 I assaulted police officers and that's kind of my

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extreme thing on my criminal record.

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Now, it just makes me feel really bad about it and I just feel as though

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the decisions I made when I was younger have just ruined my future.

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As part of their qualification,

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the boys have to make a mural for their community.

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But first, the design has to be approved

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by the people who live there.

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Our customer, really, is the residents,

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but if we present our final ideas and they say no,

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then we have to go back and we have to change our design.

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Right. So, what are the themes of our mural?

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Anything at all?

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-Peace.

-Peace.

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-Right. Anything else?

-Past and future.

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Because of the heritage of the area.

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The shipyards now, they don't employ the way they used to,

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because we don't make ships here any more,

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but Harland & Wolff still operates in renewable energies.

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This symbol of the past,

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which was very important to the people of the area,

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is now already looking into the future.

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So, the people of the area should be looking along with that.

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Would you agree with that? Yeah. OK.

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So the information that we have is

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that the residents like the idea of a quote.

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I want each of you to get me two quotes.

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That's a lot of pressure.

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A lot to take in at the minute.

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It's decent, aye, so it is, having a routine...

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and having something to get up for.

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Graffiti artist Jim Ricks is meeting the boys to kick-start some ideas.

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It's a good-sized wall. I think simple and bold,

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it's key to think about moving forward, an idea of hope.

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An idea of hope is the best way of putting it.

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The next generation doesn't need to grow up the way we did.

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This is where it should stop. If it doesn't,

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there's no point even doing this.

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You see at the bottom here,

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you could do two big circles and then in the middle,

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what we want now.

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It's a tricky wee project, like, I'll tell you that.

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With the design process under way,

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the boys now have to get to grips with the technology.

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I want you to find me a nice-looking silhouette,

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and we're going to cut that out of vinyl.

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When we go to make our mural,

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we are going to be using this machine.

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You pick whatever one you want.

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Yeah, try that, and right click.

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-Right there, yeah?

-You see the wee blue drop-down one, sorry?

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To be honest, Paddy, I'm not wearing my glasses.

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I need my glasses, to tell you the truth.

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Confidence, you know, is a big thing.

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Smooth it off and then pull from a diagonal.

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Do you know, I always see the role as a teacher to promote and inspire.

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Not to make someone the smartest or the best,

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but to make them as good as they can be.

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Paddy, all off in one go.

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In one go? A pro.

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-Absolute pro.

-I never had the chance to realise my own potential.

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Some of these guys

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may never have been paid a compliment in their life.

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Ah, class.

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Class. Very good.

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That's absolutely 100%. That'll look great.

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That'll look great.

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Deary me.

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It looks awesome.

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This course is one of the biggest challenges

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I've done in my life, really.

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At the very beginning, to be honest,

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the best way to put it was like a wee pup or a fish out of water.

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The last wee bit.

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Right, Walter. At the same time, the anxiety does come into it a lot.

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You see I'm not wearing my glasses when I'm supposed to,

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and it's really messing me up, you know,

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looking at the computer screen.

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I just don't have the confidence to stick my glasses on yet.

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Ring-ring.

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The phone's off.

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Mark, his phone's off.

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We'll call round, then.

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I'm not happy.

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The boys are due to pitch to the residents today.

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Samuel?

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Samuel?

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Right. See you later.

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He says he'll call at half one with the residents.

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Hopefully he does, but I couldn't see it, he looks knackered still.

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Sammy hasn't appeared.

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Aaron and John have to face the residents on their own.

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The reason why we're here is because

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we're going to be designing this mural

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that's going to go on the gable wall in Lodge Street.

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OK. What's these T-shirts you're all wearing?

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-That's the name of your group?

-Yes.

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So surely you'd want some reference to that on it.

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-Yes.

-The residents already have their heart set on a quote.

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There was a mural that was done in the Shankill...

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-The quote on it.

-The quote on it, yeah, we looked at that.

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,

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"concerned citizens can change the world."

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We're agreeing on that quote.

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That actually sounded more like us.

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But Aaron and John have another quote they prefer.

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I hope yous two know you're going to start talking here any minute.

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What is it we're actually looking forward

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to working towards?

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You say that, then.

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You say it.

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Right, obviously, you assumed

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you've got your heart set on that quote,

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but the way we're talking about more, past, present and future.

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Pass that around.

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Something like that there because it ties in with everything.

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Yous did say at the start that you didn't want to copy anyone else,

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and that would be copying.

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You can say no. I'm not going to take offence to it.

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You can say no.

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The past, the present and the future.

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Don't get me wrong. That saying is exactly what we say.

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It is what we think our group is representing in our area,

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but for this particular mural that we're doing on this wall,

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I think that quote fits in better.

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What I will say, remember...

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That makes me feel great, yeah.

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The whole thing makes me feel great

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to be able to just stand up and say what I wanted to say.

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The graffiti artist has come back with some ideas.

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So I was just thinking of using a knot that's an infinity loop.

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In fact, I would argue that's all you need.

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-I don't know.

-It's just when the residents see it,

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they're going to expect all the likes of the mills

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and all the rest of it.

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They're not going to expect this.

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They did have their heart set on the quote,

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so what about that there sort of thing?

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The quote is very literal,

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and I tried to interpret that into imagery

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that becomes more symbolic and universal.

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-PADDY:

-You're not going to come up with a solution

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where everyone goes 100% yes.

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So I think compromise is the keyword here.

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What we saw this morning, John, what do you think yourself, mate?

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-Honest opinion?

-Honestly, I'm not going to take anything away

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from his designs because they were nice and all,

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but you need more. We need more in it, not just the one thing.

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Like, they, the residents,

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they've always been focused on a quote, like.

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-I think we are a wee bit over our head, to be honest.

-Yeah.

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Sammy hasn't turned up at Fab Lab for a few weeks.

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I haven't really seen Sammy two, maybe three sessions.

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I hope everything is all right for him.

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-He turned the phone off.

-Did he?

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Yeah, he ain't coming in.

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I don't know what's going on with him. I want to know what's up.

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Hi, Sammy, just Paddy from the Fab Lab here,

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just trying to get in touch with you, mate.

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I hope to hear from you soon.

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You have my number, anyway. Give me a ring.

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If people don't want to come,

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they don't want to come, and, really,

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we have no control over that.

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Our challenge is to go...

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Sometimes it's not easy. In the pursuit of an education,

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you do have to push yourself.

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Yeah, sure, we can fill in for Sammy while he's off.

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I just hope he comes back and is part of us and part of the history.

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The boys have finalised the mural design.

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They're really hoping it will win the residents' approval.

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Right, well, the diamond is to represent,

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you know, the Diamond Project,

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the group the residents have made.

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And these wee bubbles are for the future

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and that's obviously the mill.

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So we've got past, present and future.

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-Enough to support them.

-I hate this.

0:20:000:20:02

It looks easy, but it's not.

0:20:020:20:04

When the residents come, you don't want to look stupid.

0:20:040:20:08

A couple of times I felt like walking away, so I did.

0:20:080:20:12

Just trying to keep motivated and try and stay on the course, really,

0:20:120:20:15

because at the end of the day, it is not only for me,

0:20:150:20:17

it is for the community as well, so I didn't want to let them down.

0:20:170:20:19

Right, so we're going to keep it faced this way,

0:20:210:20:23

and when we go out, we'll turn it around.

0:20:230:20:25

It really does represent what we were looking for.

0:20:340:20:37

Shaped like a diamond.

0:20:370:20:39

Like a diamond.

0:20:390:20:40

Sammy...

0:20:560:20:58

..is back on board.

0:20:590:21:01

How do you even put it into words?

0:21:060:21:09

Too much going on.

0:21:090:21:11

My dad recently just came out of hospital...

0:21:110:21:14

..and he's not well.

0:21:150:21:19

He's still not well.

0:21:190:21:20

And then my granny, she's not too well.

0:21:220:21:25

She's not too well.

0:21:280:21:29

So I just needed a few personal weeks.

0:21:290:21:32

The qualification means a lot,

0:21:320:21:33

so I knew I had to come back and get it finished.

0:21:330:21:36

John's been thinking about the future too.

0:21:440:21:47

He's meeting his da for advice.

0:21:510:21:53

I've got more GCSEs than anyone I know

0:21:570:21:59

and I'm still sitting here like a hobo.

0:21:590:22:02

-I want to go to uni.

-You want to go to uni now?

0:22:020:22:05

-I want to go to uni.

-You can still go to uni now.

0:22:050:22:08

It used to be you went for a job and just walked up and got one.

0:22:090:22:12

Like, you need all these qualifications to get a job.

0:22:120:22:15

-I didn't need anything.

-That's why I want to go to uni.

0:22:150:22:18

It's all about confidence now as well.

0:22:180:22:20

So the only way to build up your confidence

0:22:200:22:22

is to get the degree and the only way to get the degree

0:22:220:22:24

is to move on to further education.

0:22:240:22:26

The mural is well underway, but to pass their qualification,

0:22:440:22:50

the boys have to write up what they've learnt.

0:22:500:22:53

Not to sound all school teachery on it,

0:22:530:22:55

but there's a reason why the boxes are that size.

0:22:550:22:59

Do me a favour and try and get as much detail as you can into it.

0:22:590:23:04

OK?

0:23:040:23:05

I have no idea what I'm writing for the second one.

0:23:140:23:17

There is no way you're getting away with that.

0:23:190:23:21

When I was 17, I got diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

0:23:270:23:31

It means it's hard to concentrate...

0:23:340:23:36

..and it's just hard to focus...

0:23:370:23:39

..like handwritten stuff. I still struggle with it.

0:23:400:23:44

250 words. I haven't done this much writing since I was, like, 12.

0:23:450:23:48

I'm going for a smoke.

0:24:010:24:02

That would definitely drive you to fags.

0:24:020:24:05

Thomas, he's just chillaxing.

0:24:250:24:27

The minute your rod is facing the water, let go of it. Swing it in.

0:24:280:24:31

Let go of what, the line?

0:24:310:24:34

Yeah, the line. Just don't let go of the rod.

0:24:340:24:36

There you go.

0:24:380:24:41

There you go. Sorted.

0:24:410:24:42

You're away.

0:24:440:24:45

Hold on.

0:24:470:24:49

-Go reel it in now.

-Nice.

0:24:490:24:51

You should give it slack.

0:24:520:24:54

You see, getting out of the city, away from all the rush,

0:24:590:25:02

and just slowing down a wee bit, it just calms you right down.

0:25:020:25:08

I've just took a break from everybody.

0:25:080:25:11

I was out every day, this was about three years ago, four years ago,

0:25:110:25:14

so much bother with the police, like.

0:25:140:25:17

Unbelievable.

0:25:170:25:18

Now, I haven't been in trouble with the police,

0:25:200:25:23

well, if I'm honest, ever since my son passed away.

0:25:230:25:27

-I haven't...

-Sorry to hear that, mate.

0:25:270:25:29

I didn't know.

0:25:290:25:30

-That's the tattoo.

-Is it?

0:25:300:25:32

I'm sorry, buddy.

0:25:320:25:34

He was born on 17th September, 2013.

0:25:350:25:39

He was only six days old when it happened.

0:25:400:25:42

I think someone just ripped out my heart,

0:25:440:25:46

and just chopped it into little bits.

0:25:460:25:48

I was just...

0:25:500:25:52

Heartbreak is not even the word for it, to be honest.

0:25:520:25:54

I think as soon as that happened,

0:25:560:25:57

I pretty much turned my life around.

0:25:570:26:00

Fair play to you. Most people would have went the other way, you know.

0:26:000:26:03

You are making him proud. You're doing well.

0:26:030:26:05

The things you're doing in that Fab Lab, it's brilliant.

0:26:050:26:08

Absolutely amazing. That mural is going to look well.

0:26:080:26:12

A lot of pressure.

0:26:120:26:13

It has to look perfect.

0:26:130:26:14

It really does.

0:26:140:26:16

I just want him to think

0:26:160:26:19

that I would've been the best dad in the world.

0:26:190:26:22

Keep going until we're done.

0:26:240:26:26

The glasses will have to come out here.

0:26:300:26:31

I can't read!

0:26:310:26:32

I have opened up a lot more, like.

0:26:350:26:37

I have come out of my shell a bit more.

0:26:370:26:38

Half of my friends don't even know I wear glasses.

0:26:380:26:40

I want to have a job.

0:26:480:26:50

I want to have a life that I'm proud of.

0:26:500:26:53

That's why I'm trying to make it happen.

0:26:530:26:56

Three months ago, if you'd asked me to even go back to tech,

0:26:590:27:01

I would've laughed at you.

0:27:010:27:03

Now I know that I can do this qualification,

0:27:030:27:07

why not pursue it?

0:27:070:27:08

After four months of hard work,

0:27:190:27:22

the boys are about to unveil their mural.

0:27:220:27:26

Three, two, one!

0:27:340:27:37

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:27:380:27:40

I have some certificates here for the guys.

0:27:460:27:48

If yous want to come up, I can give you your certificates.

0:27:480:27:52

That's it. Give a round of applause.

0:27:520:27:54

And last, but not least, John.

0:27:580:28:00

You want to have felt my heart rate

0:28:000:28:02

when I was standing up there and everything.

0:28:020:28:04

Seriously, I thought I was going to faint.

0:28:040:28:06

I was quite anxious, so I was,

0:28:060:28:08

but at the same time, this will help that in the long run.

0:28:080:28:11

I can't stop looking at these.

0:28:110:28:13

I'm just astonished. I don't know!

0:28:130:28:16

I'm happy that I was actually able to stick through it

0:28:160:28:18

and complete the course as well.

0:28:180:28:20

This type of qualification,

0:28:200:28:22

it's not even just a qualification, it's a gateway

0:28:220:28:25

for to get higher education and

0:28:250:28:26

maybe even a brilliant job

0:28:260:28:28

in something that I actually enjoy. So, brilliant.

0:28:280:28:31

At a time when Protestant boys from working-class areas are underachieving in school, this film follows three unemployed young men from east Belfast as they embark on a pioneering educational project which could change the course of their lives.

Jobs for the Boys is part of BBC Northern Ireland's Make It project, which aims to build aspiration, confidence, self-belief and expectation amongst boys and young men in urban working class areas.

More details and content can be found at bbc.co.uk/makeit.