The Breakthrough Programme works with young people aged 14 to 24 years across North Belfast, focusing on personal development, one-to-one mentorship, encouraging active citizenship/volunteering and providing an opportunity to be involved positive Good Relations work.

With the onset and restrictions put in place to respond/minimize the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, everyday life as we knew it disappeared, all norms went out the window and we all had to re-analyse life as we knew it!

But our Breakthrough team were up for the challenge! Our response was to continue to support, challenge and connect young people during a time where they may feel isolated. We re-evaluated our methods of working and thought of new innovated ways to continue to engage and work with our young people. Experimenting with online platforms such as “Zoom and Messenger” took front stage!

Although mentors have been working remotely from home, we have continued to deliver a fantastic service and programme to young people in the New Lodge. Using a range of creative methods, mentors have been able to engage daily and weekly with groups of young people, offering online group sessions, using a range of online/video platforms, setting young people fun challenges to do at home, ranging from baking, creating pieces of art work to express their time at home during ‘lockdown’, interviewing family members, having online discussions/debates/quizzes, promoting positive mental health and interviewing other Breakthrough groups from different communities (such as the Shankill and Woodvale areas) and much more!

The Breakthrough Group from New Lodge have recently started taking part in a Good Relations/Active Citizenship Project where they will putting their newly gained baking and creative skills to use, by adding tray bakes and greeting cards to food packs for older people living in their communities. This project is delivered in partnership with a Breakthrough Group based in the Shore Road Area. The activities are helping the young people develop personally, be active citizens in their communities and be involved in ongoing Good Relations Work.

If you are interested in being part of the Breakthrough Programme, please get in touch. Contact us via our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/breakthroughbelfast/ or message Orla at orla.hawkins@ashtoncentre.com

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