Sunderland youth project wins eight awards in one year

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YOUTH project workers are celebrating an award-winning year.

Box Youth Project in Sunderland has picked up an impressive eight awards over the last 12 months.

Its innovative work with poverty-stricken children in Africa has earned the Hall Farm-based group a series of gongs.

Project Gambia sees a shipping container filled with supplies and sent to the African country once a year, with a group of youngsters also travelling over to work on community improvements and lead workshops.

The youth project also works with Washington Rotary Club and Farringdon Community School to renovate bikes to help Gambian pupils travel to school.

The scheme scooped the Innovation Practice Award in last month’s Youth Focus North East awards, which took place at the Stadium of Light.

Denise Barna, from the group, also collected an Outstanding Contribution Award for her efforts to co-ordinate Project Gambia.

She said: “One group that took part in the project was made up of young people who didn’t have jobs and weren’t in college and now all of them are in paid work or further education.”

Lisa Wilson Riddell, who manages the youth project, added: “Eighty per cent of the first group that went out are still involved with Project Gambia.”

Connor Peverley, 15, from Hall Farm, will be heading to Gambia this year.

He said: “I have never even been abroad or been on an aeroplane and I would never get a chance to if I wasn’t for the Box Youth Project.”