William had a rocky beginning in mainstream education. He joined the Life Centre in 2014 as a 3rd year student, two years ago. He is eagerly anticipating his return in September. He described his relationship with the centre as “too strong, it is unbelievable – it’s not just another school this is a family. It has changed my life as well as my families.”

In 2008 After budget cuts, the Cork Life Centre lost all funding from the department of education. However, the centre has still managed to grow and continue to help all the students that pass through its doors. “The donations we receive benefit the students and the teachers so much.” Last year William went to Calcutta in India to help street children, an opportunity he may not have had if he had stayed in a mainstream school. “I am so grateful, it is hard to talk about and explain the experience but it has completely changed my outlook on life, the children have so little but are still so grateful for everything they have.”

The 17 year old is determined to sit his leaving certificate and has aspirations about becoming professionally involved with mixed martial arts. At the tender age of 17 William has already won 6 national titles in MMA and Jiu-jitsu and is currently preparing for the World and European Championships next year.

The Cork Life Centre works to provide services to those students who felt distant from the mainstream education system and to give young people across Cork a second chance at succeeding in a school environment. Deputy director Rachel Lucey says “the developments which have been made as a result of the funding from the Cork Foundation have been consistent and have helped to improve the lives of so many young people throughout Cork city and county.” The centre wants to see their students get a step closer to their aspirations and dreams.