I’m originally from Dublin, but went to live in Tipperary before returning to Dublin a couple of years ago.

I’m on a training course here now for employability skills as part of the National Learning Network. It’s a great course as it’s teaching me how to get the skills to get a job, as well as practical things like how to handle money. That’s pretty handy, as maths would be my worst subject!

When did you first become involved with Extern?
I was around 17, and I was referred by my social worker when I went up to my nanny’s in Dublin. She told me it was a good programme and she thought that it might do me some good.

What sort of challenges were you facing in your life at that time then?
My mum passed away and so I had recently moved to Dublin from Tipperary and didn’t know anyone; I had no friends, and wasn’t confident enough. I wasn’t going out, and I wasn’t in school at the time, as I have autism, so it was difficult to find one.

My social worker hoped that working with Extern would bring me out of my shell, get me out and about, and take my mind off things a bit to help me through the day.

What did you know about Extern before that?
I’d never heard of Extern before I was referred. I thought it would be some kind of counselling service, and I wasn’t interested in that. But then I had a meeting with the keyworker and the manager and so I decided to give it a shot.

Tell us about the sorts of activities you did on the programme.
We did loads of stuff like bowling, which was my favourite, horse-riding, day trips to places like Kilkenny castle, cinema visits, and going for coffee. But Roscor Youth Village was my all-time favourite. I went during the summer, so I did the water trampoline, went down to the beach, did zip-lining - loads of things!

How do you think Extern has made life better for you?
It gave me so much more confidence, and has brought me out of my shell. It made me happier, and I looked forward to going on my sessions every week. It opened up some great opportunities for me, such as going horse-riding, and helped me get through my problems in life.

You’re volunteering for Extern now. Tell us how that’s going.
I started a few months ago with the project in Cherry Orchard, Dublin. My keyworker Jimmy and I go out with the kids and do things like swimming and cooking. I also do some of the office work, helping to write the reports and so on.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I like giving back to the staff and giving the kids that extra support they need.

What’s been your best memory of your time with Extern?
As a service user it would be Roscor, of course. But another would be saving a goal in the Extern Fun Cup football tournament, and helping my team to win.

Volunteering-wise, it would be getting to know the new kids. I haven’t been volunteering that long but it’s been special so far because I’m doing what I like to do. All the staff know me there now too.

What makes Extern so special?
The staff, because they always go out of their way and use their own time to given you help and advice. My keyworker really supported me in getting out and reaching my goals.

What would say to encourage other young people to work with Extern?
Go for it, try it out, and don’t say no the first time. Try to make the most of it, as it’s a really worthwhile thing to do.
And when you’re not volunteering or studying, what else do you like to do? I like horse-riding and basketball. And I’ll DJ sometimes on the side too, maybe in a local pub or somewhere similar, or if someone books me off the internet.