Fortwilliam & Macrory

Presbyterian Church

Cross Community Project - Youth Interacting and Participating

In the Summer of 2014, a cross community youth intervention project was launched along the Duncairn Gardens peace line bringing together young people from both the New Lodge and Tigers Bay communities. The programme is jointly facilitated by Fortwilliam and Macrory, the Dean Clarke Foundation and Star Neighbourhood Centre. It is also supported by the local Neighbourhood Policing Team. 
 
The project is one of eight cluster partnerships which have been established in interface areas across the city of Belfast by Belfast Interface Project. The purpose behind this specific approach is to reduce youth-led interface violence and address issues of disengagement and disaffection among young people. Alongside providing diversionary activities, particularly at times of heightened tension, the project seeks to develop community capacity and increase empowerment among young people who are most at risk of becoming involved in anti-social behaviour. 
 
Since its launch in July, the project has been working with young people from 11-19 years old to tackle the issues that impact them on a daily basis. Programmes facilitated have included Law and Order, Transitioning from Primary to Secondary School, and Peer Mentoring. The programmes combine group work sessions with residentials, outdoor pursuits and creative arts. The young people who participate also have the opportunity to gain various OCN qualifications. 
 
When we think of interfaces, often images of huge metal barriers or walls come into our heads. Structures which sever communities from each other. Us and them. The other side. This programme enables young people to recognise the common ground they share with all young people regardless of background, religion or culture. It encourages them to develop confidence and communication skills and to realise the positive impact they can have on their communities and to recognise the potential each of them have as individuals. 
 
Youth Interacting and Participating is a partnership between FMPCI, the Dean Clarke Foundation and Star Neighbourhood Centre. 
 
Funded by Belfast Interface Project and the European Regional Development Fund.