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Volunteers have made a difference in Eastern Europe
Volunteers from Bolton at Home and contractor Forrest flew to parts of Eastern Europe to take part in a two-week project that's improved the lives of people living in deprived areas.
A group of 12 young people and apprentices supported by staff travelled to Budapest in Hungary to carry out construction work, which included helping to build a refugee centre.
They also made improvements at a nursery and a church, and supported teachers at a local school.
The group worked alongside Oltalom Charity Society, an organisation which provides help to disadvantaged, vulnerable and endangered people in order to restore a good quality of life for the future.
A further group of 12 went to Romania, where they worked in partnership with FAST Charity Romania to improve the homes of the Roma communities within villages across Sacele.
As well as building work which included connecting houses to a water supply, the volunteers spent time at the ‘integration centre’ and supported the education of children and their families and their integration into the wider community.
It's the third year that we've run the ‘Building Better Futures’ project with Bolton College and Forrest.
Shauna Morton, our South Neighbourhood Manager, said: “For our apprentices and young people, it was a chance to develop new skills and experience an entirely new country, while making a meaningful difference to the communities.
“Some of our customers originate from Romania and Hungary so the trip has had great benefits for the young people and our staff in terms of learning about a different culture and picking up on best practice, which also promotes social inclusion.
“These are very disadvantaged communities and this project has genuinely improved the lives of those people living there.”
Lisa O’Neill Rogan, our Community Development Officer who travelled to Romania with the volunteers, added: “I've seen lots of difficult things like injustice, poverty, and people living without basic needs like water. However, I've also seen the group from Bolton work side by side with the Romanian people to help improve living conditions, and I’ve seen the team share their skills and contribute to the enrichment and education programme. What I'll remember most, though, is the kindness and the warmth of the people I've met because these people make me remember that there is always hope and joy in the world.”
Ted Macdougal, Development Director at Forrest, said: “The Building Better Futures initiative is always a true team effort with our people overcoming new challenges and gaining new life experiences along the way. The scheme has already helped significantly improve the lives of communities in some vastly underprivileged areas since it started three years ago and this project will be no different.”
The project was funded by Erasmus+ and all volunteers are either part of Bolton at Home's or Forrest 's apprenticeship programme, or are currently in education or training. The apprentices are studying a range of disciplines, from joinery, decorating, plastering and bricklaying, to administration, health and social care, and performing arts.
The volunteers were supported on the trip by employees from Bolton at Home and Forrest. Bolton at Home staff members used our ‘Give and Gain’ scheme, which allows them to give up five full working days a year to help the voluntary sector.
Both groups posted regular updates from the trip on Facebook. Search ‘Team Hungary 2015’ and ‘Team Romania Working Hard 2015.’