Castlederg’s Creative Arts and Social Team (CAST) benefits from Hope For Youth grant to produce empowering music video for young people

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Following the recent closure of their 2020 grant application programme, cross-community charity Hope for Youth NI is celebrating a significant milestone, having supported over 450 youth-oriented projects in Northern Ireland during its 47-year history. The charity, formerly known as the Women Caring Trust, was founded in 1972 and provides valuable funding to a range of projects which are geared toward young people with the hope of inspiring skills development, relationship building and creativity in a safe environment.

Each year, the charity encourages local youth-orientated organisations to apply for much-needed funding to help support their initiatives which span across the fields of music, art, drama and the great outdoors. This year, Castlederg-based Creative Arts and Social Team C.I.C (CAST), which caters for individuals aged from 4 years upwards and strives to nurture each individual, encouraging them to build their self-esteem through the medium of drama, music and performance and making arts accessible to all, has been named as a recipient of much-needed funds from the group, having been acknowledged for their is all-inclusive approach and work done to provide a platform for individuals to build confidence, feel valued, improve their health and well-being, develop new friendships and move forward in a new and positive direction.

In addition to a ‘positive mindset workshop’ hosted in June with West End star Sophie Issacs which tackled issues pertaining to challenges faced by teenagers, the group of over 40 teenagers has also written, produced and recorded a song and music video which aims to shine a light on teenage mental health and insecurities faced by many teens across Northern Ireland and further afield. The music video, produced using funds from Hope For Youth, officially launched in line with Mental Health Awareness Week.

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“Hope for Youth’s grant has given the young people in this area a voice to speak out about how it feels to be a teenager in these modern times,” said Rois Kelly-Lynch, Director CAST. Social media has had a huge impact on their lives - both positively and negatively. Writing a song and creating a music video has given them the confidence to express themselves and tackle their insecurities and issues head-on. Hope for Youth’s contribution to this project has been immeasurable.”

To generate the funds dispersed annually by Hope For Youth, the charity hosts a series of fundraising events each year. These efforts culminate in the biennial House of Lords v House of Commons Speedo Charity Swim and Gala Dinner, sponsored by Speedo, which is set to take place this year on Thursday 21st November in London’s Porchester Hall. The event will include swimming representatives from the Houses of Lords and Commons going head-to-head alongside well-known competitive swimmers from the Speedo brand team in a friendly rivalry to raise awareness and funds for Hope for Youth’s good work. 

Reflecting on the charity’s work over the years, Hope for Youth NI Chairman Noel Lamb said, “It’s a real pleasure to be a part of Hope For Youth and to support projects which have helped foster community development across Northern Ireland.

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“It’s so rewarding to see how we, as a whole community, are embracing diversity, whether it be differing ethnicities or religious backgrounds. Building inter-community relationships is a contributor in building a positive and peaceful future for Northern Ireland. We are incredibly grateful to Speedo for its continued support of our charity Swim and look forward to welcoming both participants and guests for what will be an excellent event in raising funds for Hope for Youth in November.”



Creating an environment where our young people can develop is at the core of our charity.  I liken it to taking baby steps; and many of these baby steps provide the confidence and self-awareness to give Northern Ireland’s children a more positive view of the world enabling them to be better citizens for tomorrow.

 In 2018 the charity was able to make awards to ten varied and interesting projects.  These ranged from educational programmes to leadership training and drama projects.  Our county assessors visit each organisation selected by the Grants Committee. They look at cross community benefits, sustainability, and achieving project goals.  The organisations all make interim and final reports to the assessors.  I have often said that it is both humbling and uplifting to see the results on the ground.

 In the west of the province one project is to establish a brass band over two years, a second is a fourteen-week programme of arts and drama resulting in production of Guys and Dolls and a third, a dance project for 40 participants.  In Derry/Londonderry there is a peace building and digital story telling project and a separate one for citizen and leadership training.  In Belfast and the east of the province there is an education programme involving art murals and a summer programme of activities aimed at decreasing the amount of underaged drinking and anti-social behaviour.  All of these have a cross community basis.

Looking ahead in the new year, the trustees will be hosting a lunch at The Culloden Hotel on 5th April with Roddy Doyle, the well-known Irish author and dramatist, in conversation with Conor Bradford.   This is an opportunity for our corporate supporters in Northern Ireland to get to know the charity.  21st November is the date for the biennial House of Lords v House of Commons Swim for which preparations are well underway.  Thanks again go to Leo Callow, Karen and all at Cherton without whose help we would never achieve so much.


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Hope for Youth Northern Ireland holds local fundraiser at Armagh County Club

Last month Hope for Youth Northern Ireland invited supporters of the charity to the Armagh County Club to update them on the recent grants awarded and getting the charity’s name much better known in the county. 

 They all enjoyed the evening and the Chairman, Noel Lamb, gave an overview of past projects the charity had supported over the last few years and future fundraising events for the upcoming year.  Nearly £2,000 was raised during the evening and a big thank you goes to Mrs Vanne Campbell, a trustee of Hope for Youth for organising the event.

The Chairman and Trustees would like to thank the local the local businesses who helped with the refreshments for the evening;  McEnerneys and Emersons supermarkets, Anthony Jackson, McIvors Cider Company and the Armagh County Club

Fundraising at Finnebrogue House

We took advantage of fine June weather to invite 200 of our friends and supporters to Finnebrogue for a fundraising Beating Retreat.  The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Dragoon Guards and the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment played a selection of music, both military and classical pieces.  We had a wide range of guests in the audience including the Lord Lieutenants for County Down and Belfast, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Richard Clarke and his predecessor, the Right Reverend Alan Harper, members of the police and the local community.  The programme for the evening included the band playing Scipio by Handel, the Soldiers Chorus from Faust, the Army of the Nile and various cavalry marches. The Pipes and Drums played the Rowan Tree and the Green Hills of Tyrol and the Gael.

A huge thank you again to all our supporters for their most generous donations.


We are delighted to support a unique water safety initiative currently underway in Northern Ireland which is aimed at raising awareness of safety in water throughout local communities. The hands-on training scheme, called The Ripple Effect, focuses on promoting water safety and drowning prevention and will equip local children with the knowledge and essential swimming skills needed to minimise dangerous incidents.

Spearheaded by the City of Belfast Swimming Cluband supported by Hope For Youth, The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), and Speedo®, The Ripple Effect has been launched in support of the UK drowning prevention strategy, which aims to reduce drowning fatalities in the UK by 50% by 2026. The initiative will see a roll-out of swimming education outreach and applied survival and life-saving lessons across schools in Belfast initially and subsequently throughout Northern Ireland.

John Crichton, the 7th Earl of Erne and Hope for Youth trustee said: “Water safety is a basic human right that shouldn’t be reserved for families who can afford the privilege of extra-curricular swimming lessons. Every child is entitled to know how to swim on leisurely and security levels. Hope for Youth is delighted to be supporting this new initiative and look forward to celebrating its accomplishments at our next Hope For Youth gala swim in London next November.”

Kenny MacDermid, National Drowning Prevention Coordinator, RLSS UK, the Drowning Prevention Charity said “RLSS UK is committed to a year on year reduction in drownings across the UK and Ireland and are delighted to be supporting this project. 400 people accidentally drown each year across the UK and statistics show that young males are most at risk. This excellent initiative equips the young people of Belfast with the key skills they need to make well informed choices regarding their own personal safety in and around the water. At RLSS UK we are privileged to work with many families affected by drowning and see firsthand how devastating this can be not just to the family but the wider community and we are committed to putting a stop to these needless deaths.”

The Ripple Effect is being implemented in three key stages; the initial stage involves primary school children participating in classroom and pool lessons led by coaches with RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) which include water safety presentations, practical floating techniques and life-saving activities. Stage two involves RLSS UK’s Rookie Lifeguard award within the City of Belfast Swimming Club to transform enrolled children into mini lifeguards by teaching them valuable survival, rescue and sports skills that will enable them to enjoy water safely.  The final phase of the year-long programme is an end of season cross-community event that will celebrate and award each child’s achievement.

Tanya Martin, Chair, City of Belfast Swimming Club said: “Tragically too many young people are lost to the water each year due to insufficient survival skills or lack of swimming confidence. We hope The Ripple Effect will make waves about the dangers of water, both in a pool setting and in natural water outlets, and provide children with the vital skills to survive in water when adverse conditions strike.” 

The Ripple Effect is being piloted with Elmgrove Primary School in East Belfast and includes classroom and poolside lessons taking place at council-owned Avoniel Leisure Centre. Designed to empower the children and remove barriers to water safety including socio-economic burdens, the initiative is supported by Hope for Youth NI which endeavours to provide funding for young people in Northern Ireland to partake in cross community activities irrespective of their backgrounds.

Commenting on the initiative, Hannah English, teacher at Elmgrove Primary School said: “Elmgrove is thrilled to be the first school in Northern Ireland to trial The Ripple Effect. After taking part in the programme’s initial classroom and poolside lessons, we have had great feedback from the pupils regarding their understanding of the coach’s key messages and have noticed a surge in their confidence in the swimming pool.  The Ripple Effect has particular importance for our pupils because of the current regeneration work being carried out in Avoniel Park, which is making the Connswater River more visible. A number of pupils that walk to school walk past the river on their way to school so it is great that they are being given first-hand knowledge about water safety and lifesaving skills which is giving them the important tools to show responsibility around water.”




Ok, so I haven't posted much on here over the last few weeks.  I've been finding this so incredibly tough.  Constant injuries over the last four months have been slowing my progress down. Christmas was a right-off with no training for 2 weeks due to an ankle injury. January saw me getting back on track for three weeks of solid training before flu kicked in and another calf problem.  Age is catching up with me! I hear ya!

However the good news is I will not let this beat me.  I'm back on track with a ten mile run planned this weekend. I'm looking at competing in the Carlingford Half Marathon on March 4th which will be good to get confidence up.

Big thanks to the amazing Gill Johnston, my mentor and training buddy. She's putting in the miles with me without any Marathon place to show for it. 

I'm going to be hammering social media over the next three months as we aim to raise £2000 for Hope For Youth NI so beware! I'm running this year's London Marathon to help bring Protestant and Catholic children together in Northern Ireland.

Please support me and thanks for reading.    PLEASE DONATE HERE



Fleet Financial marks 20-year business milestone by raising thousands for Hope for Youth NI


Northern Ireland’s leading contract hire and vehicle management provider Fleet Financial has donated £31,000 to Hope for Youth NI as part of a major fundraising initiative.

The substantial sum raised was part of a range of initiatives launched by Fleet Financial in 2016 to celebrate two decades of business growth and success.

The funds raised will now be used to drive a range of new cross-community projects in disadvantaged areas which are focused on young people and are designed to foster teamwork, creativity and friendship-building across Northern Ireland.

Philip Miley, Sales and Marketing Director, Fleet Financial, said;

“Hope for Youth is making a real difference to communities in Northern Ireland, creating new and ground-breaking opportunities for our young people to be creative and to work as a team to focus on goals which they can share.

“With the support of our colleagues, partners, customers and friends, we are thrilled that we can donate such a significant amount of money to a charity which is delivering such valuable and meaningful work at grassroots level across a range of targeted projects.”

During the last 20 years, Hope for Youth has raised over £1m to support cross-community projects for young people aged 11-18 in Northern Ireland regardless of their background. 

The projects are focused on developing teamwork, creativity and personal life skills, especially within the arts, music and the great outdoors.

Noel Lamb, Chair of the charity’s Board of Trustees, said;

“This is a hugely generous donation from Fleet Financial, which will enable and drive projects that will change and shape lives.

“Our projects provide unique opportunities for groups of young people from a range of backgrounds to get together with a shared goal, to collaborate and to enjoy working together in a fun and creative environment.

“Thanks to the support of Fleet Financial, we can embrace this diversity and in doing so create an enhanced Northern Ireland today and long into the future.”

Launched in February 1996, Fleet Financial has played a leading role in supporting businesses across the UK and Ireland and is officially Northern Ireland’s Best Fleet Provider following consecutive award wins at the Business Eye Fleet Awards for two consecutive years.


About Fleet Financial:

Launched in February 1996, the fast-growing company has played a leading role in supporting businesses across the UK and Ireland. Specialising in contract hire and vehicle management to businesses and organisations, Fleet Financial has offices in Newtownabbey and Manchester and is part of Northern Ireland’s largest car retailer, Charles Hurst Group. Transacting business with over 1,000 companies ranging from sole traders, SMEs and some of Northern Ireland’s leading companies, it currently manages a fleet of more than 4,000 vehicles.

For more information, visit

The Waterloo Dinner

One of the major planks to our fund raising is holding events for our supporters in both Northern Ireland and Great Britain. On June 25th we sat down 120 for dinner at Finnebrogue House. The catering was done by Simon Dougan of Yellow Door and the wines were kindly sponsored by Duncan Spence through his Rickety Bridge estate in Cape Province, South Africa. Both are long standing supports of the charity. The weather was kind and our guests had drinks at the front of the house before going in to the wonderful fare served up by Simon and his team. Our main course was guinea fowl, cooked to perfection, no mean feat for 120. We sat in the saloon, entrance hall and dining room.

Anumber of our guests came from England. Three tables from County Antrim took advantage of hiring a bus for the evening. The dinner was within a week of the anniversary of Waterloo, so we took advantage of the date to encourage serving members of the forces to wear uniform, giving further colour to the evening. Guests were greeted by a bugler and piper, with roving musicians adding to the atmosphere.

A silent auction on the evening raised well in excess of £10,000 which represents a meaningful sum in our grants programme.