RomaniaThe New Lodge Youth Centre has been providing the experience of a lifetime for young people within the community for the past 3 years. The 14-strong team this year consisted of a mixture of young people and staff who have been working alongside one another from May 2017 until they flew together to Romania on February 14th, 2018.

The commitment of this amazing group of young people has been nothing short of inspirational. They have given up their time selflessly to make a positive impact here in their own community and this work has not gone unnoticed. In preparation for the overseas project to Romania the group gave up their Tuesday evenings to volunteer in the 174 Trust working with people with disability building relationships, friendships and bringing joy to others. Other examples of their selfless nature included homeless outreach where they provided homeless people who sleep rough with some warm drinks and food, volunteering down in the soup kitchen at St Patricks church and even spending Christmas morning giving back to others who are less fortunate than themselves.

The dedication of these young people is unquestionable as they have fully engaged in all the fundraising days that have been asked of them. Together, working as a team, the staff and participants have raised all funds to make this amazing trip possible. This was achieved by doing bag packs, sleepovers in the youth centre, bun sales at church, charity nights and donations from people and organisations who value the impact the project has on the local young people of the New Lodge area.

All the hard work over the past year has raised the anticipation to the moment that they finally set foot on the plane. As the date drew closer the team were preparing and getting things put in place before setting off on a journey that changed all their lives for the better.

Some of the places visited where they provided a helping hand in Baraolt, Romania included the orphanage, Family Home, school and nursery. Baraolt is a really deprived town with the kids and young people having next to nothing. During the week in Romania the group from New Lodge Youth Centre made a lasting impact on the town that hopefully will be felt for some time to come.

A huge thank you for their contribution goes to Newington Credit Union, Nichola Mallon (MLA), CLLR Paul McCusker, St Patricks Chapel, Knights of St Columbanus, North Belfast Housing and the Tongue N Cheek Theatre Group for their generous donations it is much appreciated and goes a long way to making the experience that much more special. New Lodge Youth Centre is a project of Ashton Community Trust.