Monkstown trainee wins award presented in memory of young man murdered in west Belfast

Laura Marley from Springboard presents Aaron Lunn from Monkstown with the Christopher Meli Award. INNT 17-501CON
Laura Marley from Springboard presents Aaron Lunn from Monkstown with the Christopher Meli Award. INNT 17-501CON

A young man from Monkstown has been presented with a special award for his ‘excellent work ethic’ on a job skills training programme.

Aaron Lunn, a former pupil of Ballyclare Secondary School, was recently awarded the JobWorks programme’s Christopher Meli Award for Overall Achievement - presented in memory of the young west Belfast man who was murdered last year. Christopher had been on the same programme as Aaron when he was tragically killed in a violent attack on December 12.

Aaron joined the JobWorks programme in October 2015 after a short spell working in retail. Unsure about his career choice going forward, he turned to JobWorks with the aim of increasing his skills, knowledge and experience in a different setting.

The 20-year-old, who left school in 2012 after completing his GCSEs, gained work experience and several qualifications during a placement with BT. He was among a number of successful programme participants who received awards at a special celebratory event held in the MAC, Belfast recently.

“The JobWorks programme is not only aimed at meeting the employability needs and supporting the development and learning of young people, but aims to give them the confidence to know that they can achieve their goals with the right mentoring and encouragement,” explained Magz Gibney from Springboard Opportunities, the charity which runs JobWorks.

“The award ceremony celebrates each of the young people involved as well as highlighting those who were truly outstanding. We are also very grateful to our partnership organisations who have been a fantastic support.

“With the support of his family, we are proud to remember Christopher Meli who made a massive impact as a participant on JobWorks this year. Christopher excelled on our programme and in his memory we presented the Christopher Meli Award for Overall Achievement. We are proud of all our participants and their achievements this year, and know that they each have a very bright future ahead.”

Congratulating Aaron on his award, Magz continued: “We chose a person who demonstrated the same traits as Christopher. Aaron was dedicated, motivated and enthusiastic throughout the whole programme. He demonstrated a very strong work ethic at all times, was always on time and well presented. Aaron had a great attitude, showed passion and enthusiasm and got on brilliantly with all the other people in his group and with the staff here in Springboard. We are all incredibly proud of Aaron and what he has achieved.”

Throughout the employability programme Aaron’s passion for health and fitness became apparent. And although unrelated to the course he had completed, the staff at Springboard decided to help him find a job he’d love.

Aaron is now working as a trainee fitness instructor for RedZone Fitness and his employer is putting him through his Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer qualifications.

“JobWorks is a great programme,” he told the Times. “It gave me the boost that I really needed to get out there and it gave me the drive to do what I really wanted to do rather than just end up in some random job.”

JobWorks is aimed at young people aged 18 – 24 years who are not in education, employment or training, supporting them to develop new skills and experiences in order to help them move forward with future aspirations.

For more information about the JobWorks programme log on to www.springboard-opps.org