A YOUTH project is doing its bit to address a range of social issues in North Belfast. Set up earlier this year, Turas youth project is based in New Lodge Youth Centre and was formed after a group of friends wanted to address stereotyping and overcoming prejudice and discrimination in North Belfast.
Made up of a group of young people in the greater New Lodge area the young people have been heavily involved in various community initiatives as well as helping local people who are struggling with alcohol, drugs and gambling addiction. Youth leader Paddy Doyle, who works with the young men, said they are committed to helping others in the community.
“The lads have really bought into the Turas project,” he said. “They are 100 per cent committed to the work that we do. People who are struggling with addictions feel safe to talk to the lads thanks to the comfortable environment that the lads have created. We are using the young lads as leaders in the community to help others.”
Turas have more recently been working closely with charities and services who support the homeless as well as continuing their voluntary work by helping those with addictions.
“We have been working closely with Rosemount House on the Antrim Road, helping those with addictions who are trying to turn their life around,” added Paddy.
“This year the young people of the group will be giving up their Christmas and volunteering there to help prepare and serve Christmas lunch to the residents.
“They will also be out on the streets of North Belfast on Christmas Eve to give out hats, gloves and scarves to the homeless.”
Next year the Turas project will travel to Poland in March on a study visit to learn more about the concentration camps and use this knowledge and under-standing to help change people’s perceptions.
The young lads will return home to share their experiences with local primary school children.
Looking back on what has been an amazing few months for the young people in Turas youth project, 18-year-old Conor McAuley reflected on his experiences so far.
“When I first started with the group it was just like a normal friends’ group as everyone in it are my mates and family,” he explained.
“The group at the start was very intense and straight into action. We started with homeless stuff early on in Turas and it was hard-hitting in my opinion. It made me realise what I've joined is something not just to keep me entertained over the summer but something that will continue on throughout my life due to the way I look at life now. Turas has been an incredible experience for me in the short time we have been together, having craic with my mates and giving back to the community we live in is incredible and a great feeling. I hope Turas can inspire others to do what we have done as we are just a bunch of mates looking to give back and have fun.”