Connor Smyth, 30, is a Children’s Disability Social Worker. His personal journey with Cedar inspired him to make a difference in the lives of young people with disabilities, acquired brain injury or a diagnosis of autism.

Conor has Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. He was referred to Cedar's Youth Matters Service in 2009 by a social worker. Youth Matters is a dynamic youth work service that supports young people to live the lives they choose through personal and social development programmes, summer schemes, inclusive projects and community capacity building training.

Connor explained:

"Being part of Youth Matters helped improve my independence, the highlight was definitely the the residentials in Corrymeela, Peace Camp and Greenhill YMCA which helped me realise just how independent I could be."

Connor connected with Cedar’s Transitions service during his final year of school. Transitions is a holistic service that improves young peoples transition readiness when leaving school. 

"My Transitions Officer supported me to look at my options for transitions, this help my family realise that I had support around me and could be independent if I chose to go to Belfast or further afield for University."

At the end of his time as a young person with Youth Matters and the Transitions services, Connor returned to Cedar as a staff member in two different roles. He took up the position of Facilitator for the User Forum making a significant contribution based on his valuable experience sitting on the Youth Matters Youth Action Team. The User Forum represents the voice of Cedar's adult service users and drives co-production throughout the organisation. Connor also returned to his Youth Matters roots as a Bank Support worker. This role involves supporting young people to participate in all Youth Matters activities.

Having first studied a degree in Business Studies and Advertising Connors journey led him to return to University. He decided to study Social Work. Having come full-circle from his participation in Youth Matters Connor is now a Children's Disability Social Worker referring young people into Cedar services. 

"After experiencing the Youth Matters service as young person and the difference it made to my life I know the impact it could make for they young people I work with.  In my role as Social Worker I advocate as widely as possible for young people to access the services I was able to and have those same life-changing opportunities."