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CONVENTION 2014: Our Children & Young People

Greater Shankill Community Convention
THURSDAY 27th March, Spectrum Centre
9.30am Refreshments on arrival
10am - 12.30pm

Celebrating the Work

Networking; showcasing; discussions; presentations; information & updates; stalls

12.30pm Lunch
2pm - 5pm

The Children Celebrate

  • Reaching for the Stars - poster & billboard launch
  • GS Generations (transition group) - book launch
  • W5 Busking Station, Discovery Company workshops & much more!
FRIDAY 28th March, Spectrum Centre
9.30am Refreshments on arrival
10am - 12noon

The Business End

  • Convention Update
  • Task Groups recalibration
  • Strategic Investment Fund (SIF)
  • Manifesto for Education
  • Family Support Hubs
  • Integrated Services for Children & Young People (ISCYP)
  • Your business

fun stuff at GSCC 2014


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



Blog: We Will Remember Them

The Shankill bomb was "one of those moments" during the troubles.

It was one of those moments because it was an attack on the Shankill – a people and place, despite redevelopment's decimation of its community and 30 years of the troubles,  that still carried meaning and symbolism beyond itself.

It was one of those moments because, like the Abercorn, Enniskillen and other atrocities, it was a broad daylight no warning bomb, creating awful indiscriminate carnage, death and injury to so many.

It was a moment when the fledgling peace process, which found its first tangible expression in the Republican and Loyalist ceasefires 10 and 12 months later, was put in jeopardy.

It was a time, of which there were maybe 3 or 4 during the troubles, when N. Ireland stared into the abyss of all out conflagration – and that is no exaggeration!

But most of all it was a moment when the lives of the families of the 9 innocents murdered would change forever, as were the lives of the 50 plus people injured – some horrifically.  It was a moment when the whole of the Shankill community felt attacked, a feeling shared by many that day throughout N. Ireland and beyond if the cards and tributes from across all communities and borders that poured in over the next few days were anything to go by.

It was a moment that joined other moments in the litany of lethal bombs in the Shankill – the Balmoral showrooms, the Bayardo, the Four Step, the Mountainview and finally the bomb on 23 October 1993.  Five killer bombs in a half mile long stretch of shops over a 20 year period and many others that didn't kill.

Twenty years on it is a tribute to the Shankill that the nature and measured response of its community to the bomb, while not being able to bring back the dead, did save us all from a spiral of awful consequences.  That response was shown in the dignity of the funerals and the bereaved families handling their grief way beyond the immediate aftermath of the bomb.

shankill-memorial-lampIt was shown when some relatives and community representatives went to the funerals at Greysteel a week later, to share in the grief of other families.  It is shown in the beautiful memorial park opposite the bomb site, with its iconic gas lamp lit 24/7 for the last 20 years in memory of the dead and its granite memorial which reads:-


"To give light to those who sit in darkness
And in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace

St. Luke 1:79


It was shown by the response of the people of N. Ireland who descended in their thousands to the funeral days after the bomb, to let the families and the Shankill know that we were not alone in our grief - and we got the message!

All of the above is why 20 years on the Shankill will gather itself together again, around the bereaved families and the surviving injured to give them, and one another, support and to say "thank you" for the overwhelming outpouring of support that embraced us in those dark days.

And that is why, on 23 October 2013 we will take another moment, just after one o'clock, to remember that awful day, those who died and were injured and their families and as a community shine a light into a dark place and "guide our feet into the way of peace".

We will remember them!


Hard Hitting Drug Drama: Popping Candy

Spanner in the Works theatre company presents: Popping Candy

A new play by Patricia Downey, Popping Candy, is a hard-hitting, compelling drama exploring the complex and controversial issues surrounding Mephedrone use.  It shines a spotlight on the mental health problems facing our young people today.

Four young people collide for the first time in a shared student house.  Meet Mick the fun-loving lad from Belfast away from home for the first time; rebellious Goth, Pearl from Bangor; Armagh Tim, the country boy; and single-minded Alison from Rathcoole, who longs to get out of Northern Ireland.

Follow these four young people as they juggle responsibility and coursework and struggle with their ever expanding need to get off their faces and out of their heads!

Popping Candy will resonate with anyone trying to understand and come to terms with the issues facing this generation’s young people. It highlights just how readily drugs are available to our youth - no matter what their class, gender, age, or where they live.

This play contains language which might cause offence, and scenes some people may find disturbing.  Anyone under 14 should be accompanied by adult, youth leader, teacher or guardian.

Monday 10th March 2014 at 8pm
Spectrum Centre
Shankill Road
Admission free


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