Wiktoria Jurek: Past CAN YDP Participant

My name is Wiktoria (Wiki for short), I moved from my home in Poland to Ireland when I was 9 years old.

 Juvenile Liaison Officer Michael Donlon referred me into The CAN YDP in February 2020

I had never heard of a YDP until I was referred, I was very scared and did not know what to expect. On arrival to the project, I met Ciara Kinsella who was the Youth Justice Worker in the project. Ciara seemed very nice and soon put my mind at ease and made me feel very welcome.

I joined a group with peers who were my age. At the start, the group worked on team building, getting to know each other and building relationships. After a few weeks, we began doing programme work on issue-based topics.

The YDP was very beneficial to me in my teenage years, it kept me in line and out of trouble and I always knew I had a safe space to go to if I needed help with anything. Ciara had always told me that if I needed support to just call in, I did not have to wait for it to be my group time.

School was not my favorite place. I was always getting into trouble and I would get very angry with the teachers when I would be in trouble. I thought that maybe I would be better if I dropped out, but Ciara supported me with this and encouraged me to stay in school. I attended the project separately for one to one sessions around managing my anger. I then went on to finish school, complete my leaving cert, and graduated in 2022, all while working evenings and weekends in the local McDonalds.

I was still attending the YDP, even though I had not been in any trouble with the Guards since my initial referral but I liked it there and I had somewhere to go even if it was just for a chat and toasties. I completed a twelve-week driver theory programme with the YDP and I passed my theory test first time, I am in the process of completing my driving lessons and awaiting an appointment to sit for my full driving test. I am a member of the Junior Board for In Sync Youth and Family Services. Myself and the other board members work alongside Youth Workers to help make In Sync a better organization.


Following on from leaving school, I continued to work in McDonalds full time for a few months. A better job opportunity came my way, it was a 9 to 5, better pay and no weekend work, so I went for the interview and was successful. I started working at Tir Na Nog crèche and preschool, I enjoyed my time there.  


Wiktoria sits on a couoch with her baby Hayden on her lap. They are in front of a CAN YDP banner.

The next chapter in my life was becoming a Mum to my son Hayden on June 29th 2023. Hayden has completely changed my life, I have matured so much and have different perspectives on life now. The YJW’s meet Hayden and myself on a regular basis and the Junior Board have been fantastic since Hayden arrived, I took a few months out but I am back now and Hayden has been welcomed as well and attends some of the meetings with me when I don’t have child care, the board have been very accommodating.

I have applied for a Post Leaving Cert course in Social Care, my hope would be in the future to work in Youth Diversion projects and be able to use myself as an example to help young teens to realize if they are struggling during their teenage years, they can turn things around and make a good life for themselves.

I still call into the project to this day, even though my case is now closed because I know, no matter what I might need help with, if its advice or support with anything at all, I know that I will get it there.

 I am very thankful to Ciara and the other YJW’s in The CAN YDP for everything throughout the years, my life could have been so different if I was not referred into the project, I was given support and encouragement to change my life around.

So, that’s my story, Wiki a scared teenager walking into a Youth Diversion project at 15 years of age and walking out an adult, with so many good things to look forward to in my future .


This article was published on the Sunday Independent on the 5th of May.

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