ACTOR Paul Brannigan proved a star attraction as he visited groups of young people in Bellshill last week to share his experiences of trying to steer clear of a life of crime.
The winner of the best actor award at the Scottish Baftas for his performance in the highly acclaimed the Angels’ Share visited both Cardinal Newman High School and Bellshill Academy for special showings of the film, followed by question and answer sessions.
And he returned to Cardinal Newman to meet a selected group of young people from throughout North Lanarkshire as part of the Pathfinders project led by Strathclyde Police in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council which aims to steer young people away from offending.
In the Angels’ Share Paul plays the character of a young man trying to escape a culture of gang violence and build a better life for himself, a struggle which mirrored his own real-life circumstances.
He spoke to pupils at both schools about his life experiences and raised awareness of drug/alcohol issues and the importance of making positive life choices.
At the Pathfinders event he delivered a workshop to raise awareness of the troubles he went through as a child and what he did to overcome them, before giving an inspirational speech and answered questions on some of the difficulties the young people were having.
Many of those on the Pathfinders programme have been involved in crime from a young age and the session highlighted some of the hard hitting issues faced by young people as they grow up and more importantly, what happens in jail where many of them inevitably end up.
Community safety officer PC Alan Mulholland said: “The Pathfinder project engages with young people identified as suitable for active intervention due to offending behaviour or being on the periphery of offending.
“It was interesting to see the young people’s faces when Paul Brannigan walked in the building as they had just watched his film and when he spoke about some of his challenges, this made some of our groups see there is a future even if they have been involved in trouble or if they have had a bad upbringing.
“I would say the night most definitely had an impact on the Pathfinders groups and one they will no doubt remember and keep in the back of their minds when making choices in the future.”
Clare Murray from NHS Lanarkshire added: “NHS Lanarkshire are working with the Angels’ Share project to engage with young people around social issues such as knife crime, gang culture, anti-social behaviour and alcohol/drugs.
“We see real value in using a positive role model who can speak with young people on a level they understand and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions.”