Ashton is an award winning social regeneration charity that works to deliver real benefits for local people. It was formally established in 1991 with a mission ‘To promote positive change and improve the quality of life of the North Belfast community.’ Located in the New Lodge area of North Belfast it works to address severe levels of social and economic deprivation. These health and life inequalities are further compounded by the legacy of the conflict. Within one square mile of the Ashton Centre for example 635 people were killed and over 2,500 injured.
Over the last 25 years Ashton has supported thousands of people through its community accessible programmes. These services are delivered by Ashton’s departments which include: Bridge of Hope, FabLab, Kinderkids Daycare, New Lodge Arts, New Lodge Youth Centre, Social Enterprise Hub and Training & Employment Services. The organisation, underpinned by a strong community development commitment, aims to provide a one-stop-shop for local needs. This holistic approach includes services that work to support educational, employment and training requirements; childcare needs; physical and emotional health as well as cultural and arts expressions.
Ashton’s policy of reinvesting in the North Belfast community means the majority of their 170-strong workforce are local people which in turn has brought stability to the area. The organisation has sought to regenerate not only by creating jobs but also by turning derelict pieces of land into thriving social spaces.
Ashton is viewed internationally as a model of best practice for its community regeneration achievements. In 2013 and 2017 it was appointed NI Social Enterprise of the Year and was recognised for its community ethos and social impact. It currently holds ISO9001:2015 certification and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious “Excellence 5 Star” accreditation by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM). In January 2016 a further assessment was completed by EFQM in which Ashton were awarded an Ireland Excellence certificate for its culture of excellence, robust systems and processes as well as its capacity to drive innovation and continually improve results.
Ashton Departments are: