Blog: Our Children – Our Young People

This Thursday and Friday, 27/28 March, the Shankill will once more gather itself together in a Community Convention.

Thursday morning will showcase the often ground-breaking work of those who work with children and young people in our community.  On Thursday afternoon our children and young people will showcase their own work and achievements, all of which will be a remarkable story.

Then on Friday morning, in the Spectrum Centre, Convention 2014 will report back on how  previous Convention recommendations have been delivered on or not, around SIF; Integrated Services; the designation of Greater Shankill as a Children & Young People’s Zone; education, employment; infrastructure developments and neighbourhood renewal, and chart the next stage of our journey forward as a community.

All of this is against the backdrop of the impasse at Ardoyne, the on-going flag dispute, the failure of the Haass talks to reach agreement and the sometimes toxic political atmosphere.  It is a tribute to the maturity of the Shankill community that we will come together once again at a Convention to focus on that “pearl of great price” – the future of our children, young people and grandchildren.  Can anyone dispute that we owe them that future?

We owe them not least because of the massive educational deficit they have inherited, which so limits the fuller realisation of their life chances.  Shankill, Crumlin and Woodvale wards are 1/2/3 at the bottom of the 282 wards in N. Ireland for educational achievement and have been so since records began.

It didn’t once matter so much, because a generation ago there was always a job there for you in the shipyard, Mackies on the Road, or in one of the 18 linen mills within one square mile of the Road.  It matters now!!

Believe me; the scale of this problem for our children is so big that there is no single Government Department; no single Government Agency; no school; no church; no community organisation and no family also on their own who can turn this around.

It is only by a vision-led, focused coherent, and co-ordinated plan by every Department, Agency, church, school, community & youth group, G.P., social worker, probation officer, girl guides and BB Company and with every family that we can right this wrong; this injustice.  Oh, and it will take a generation to achieve!  You get the picture I’m sure.

This “concert of action” needs a framework to operate within, or else it will not hold together.  That is why we need the Greater Shankill designated and zoned as an area for priority action for our children and grandchildren.  A context in which we can all work together.

Convention 2014 will put in place the final pieces of the jigsaw to allow this historic advancement to happen.

Be part of this next step for generational change.  Be there – be the change!!

Greater Shankill Community Convention 2014



Crimea Square: 100 Years of Shankill History

Crimea Square

The Shankill is steeped in hundreds of years of history; once a driving engine in the industrial heartland of Belfast, to a source of manpower for the trenches of WWI.  It survived the bulldozers of 'redevelopment' and the full brunt of the Troubles.

CRIMEA SQUARE, a newly commissioned play, will chronicle the history of the Shankill; from the signing of the Ulster Covenant, up to and beyond the Shankill Road Bombing.   The unique production, which originated in a community creative writing class, charts the history of the Shankill Road over the last 100 years.

Using a combination of live acting, specially commissioned soundscapes and film, you will laugh and cry along with the characters which are brought to life by a community cast, alongside professional actors.

The Spectrum Centre, once the site of the old Stadium Cinema, is the venue for the play which runs for 11 nights (October 17-20, 24-27, 31 and November 2).

To book your tickets call 07873 425873, visit the Belfast Festival website or call in to the Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road.



Shankill Summer School Praised by Children, Parents & Media


'Moooving On', last week's Summer Transition Programme, has exceeded expectations and was declared a resounding success by all children and parents involved.

The packed event was attended by over 80 children from Greater Shankill, who move on from Primary School this summer.

One mother emailed to comment on her son's time at the event: "He had the experience of a lifetime, frm start 2 finish, he loved all of the activities that he took part in, usually he has little 2 say & every day he came home he was supper excited telling me all about his day & the different things yous had in place 4 them."

"Also his wee self esteem & confidence would be very low & frm this experience I have seen his confidence boosted 100% & his self esteem 100%"

The BBC covered the good news story on both the BBC News Website and Good Morning Ulster, BBC Radio Ulster's premier morning show.

The radio interview with children, parents and GSP's Jackie Redpath, is available on the BBC iPlayer and covers the overarching plan to designate the Shankill as an area for a focus on education, as demanded by the Greater Shankill community at the Agreed Agenda Convention in May 2011. (interview from 1:42.18 - 1:47.23)

At the end of the week long experience, comedienne Nuala McKeever presented children with achievement certificates and goodie bags.  After all the learning and activities, Friday evening was party time at the youth night which featured circus performers, BMX biking, break dancing, live DJ's and graffiti artists.

The Greater Shankill Partnership would like to thank all the children involved in the programme and their parents; and also all the staff (especially ISCYP), teachers and partner organisations who made the event possible.

To see more photos of the week-long event, click on over to our Facebook page.