Ciara Rea Head of Corporate Services and Paul Roberts CEO of Ashton Community Trust along with Trevor Connolly, Director for Business Engagement, Department for Economy

Ashton Community Trust has been named 2017 NI Social Enterprise of the Year at a glittering award ceremony. The North Belfast regeneration charity was also highly commended in the Social Impact category.

Ashton Community Trust Chief Executive Paul Roberts said he was thrilled with the awards which took place on October 27 2017 at the Stormont Hotel.

“We are delighted to be named as Social Enterprise of the Year and to be highly commended for our social impact. These awards collectively recognise how hard staff work towards Ashton’s mission of improving the lives of local people and making North Belfast a better place to live. Working in partnership with our colleagues in the community, voluntary and statutory sectors underpins all of this work. Ashton’s heart is in the community. We are grateful to everyone who has worked with us in recent years as this award provides recognition of the benefits of that team approach

Ashton’s policy of reinvesting in the North Belfast community means the majority of its workforce are local people, which in turn has brought stability to an area ranked highly in deprivation and unemployment measures.  It currently employs over 200 people making it one of the largest social enterprises in NI and pivotal in the development of the sector in North Belfast. Ashton has also sought to regenerate the area not only through the creation of jobs but by turning derelict pieces of land into thriving social hubs.

Speaking about the future Paul Roberts added: “A robust asset based approach and sound financial management underpins our corporate strategy. Working collaboratively, sharing best practice and keeping a community development ethos to the forefront guides all of this work. Looking to the future we will continue to focus on regeneration, sustaining existing posts and creating new jobs while making positive social change for the North Belfast community. ”

This award follows on from another star accolade ‘Inspiring Leader of the Year’ awarded to Paul Roberts by the Chief Officers 3rd Sector (CO3) in February 2017.