Passionate about changing the lives of men and youth in his community

It is his belief in God and divine purpose that helped Ulrich Lottering overcome a traumatic childhood. He and his siblings witnessed their father, an alcoholic, abuse their mother and disrupt what should have been a peaceful middle-class home in the small Christian community of Clarkson in the Eastern Cape.

“My dad had a very good plumbing business but his struggle with alcoholism impacted our home life. When I was in high school I felt like I needed the support of a father figure, since even though my father was physically present, he was emotionally absent,” says Ulrich.

It is this experience that has made Ulrich passionate about working with men and youth in his community. He is particularly excited about rolling out the Fathers Matter campaign in Cape Town, where he works as a Heartlines regional rep.

“I made a decision from a young age that when I have children, I will not be like my father. I do not drink alcohol and I support my children in everything they do. Children today are exposed to a lot of things and it has been important to me that I play an active role in teaching them good values and how to make the right decisions,” he adds.

Career and ministry journey

Ulrich’s career took various paths as an adult. He worked at a pharmacy while living in Clarkson and then moved to Cape Town where he worked at a major retail store and later became a financial advisor for Old Mutual. His experience in finance introduced him to the Heartlines Values & Money programme, in which he has worked as a facilitator since 2019.

His calling to work with men and disadvantaged youth was prompted by what he believes was a divine experience.

“While working as a financial advisor, God spoke to me about becoming a volunteer. Two months later I had a vivid dream in which I approached a group of men standing outside a prison and I asked them several times if I could work with them,” he says. “The fact that they were outside the prison made me realise that I needed to do rehabilitation work to assist them after they leave prison.”

In 2017 he went into full-time ministry and established an NPO called Networking for Christ, which teaches prisoners life-skills, runs an after-care programme which assists prisoners, families and communities with reintegration. He and his colleagues have written an accredited 16-week curriculum that tackles gender-based violence and victim empowerment.

“I came to realise that the challenges young people faced in Clarkson, where I grew up, were because of a lack of mentorship and programmes. In Cape Town, I realised that young people do not have a good foundation to learn good values,” he says.

What’s Your Story? has been a powerful tool in assisting our youth. The various exercises that prompt them to share their stories have made young people learn to listen to and support one another. The Fathers Matter campaign is essential in prison because it addresses socio-economic challenges which impact our communities.”

Ulrich has found that each Heartlines programme: Values & Money, What’s Your Story? and Fathers Matter has been pivotal in assisting him carry out his vision of improving the lives of people in his community and they have enhanced his own programmes in rehabilitating prisoners and mentoring youth.

Today he is more optimistic than ever to continue to change and impact lives.