Debra & Phil: Adventures in Northern Ireland

For Debra and Phil it was another early morning alarm so that they could catch a flight to Northern Ireland. Just 36 hours to spend with Keeva but plenty packed into every hour and three very exciting events!

On Tuesday 4th July, we helped present the ROC Conversation Rathfern (Keeva, Ste and a local team of volunteers did all the preparatory work in the months leading up to the event). It was a very focused Conversation concentrating on one local community who live on one estate – with few community facilities but plenty of excellent work already taking place. The Mayor Councillor Paul Hamill, representatives of the Police Service Northern Ireland, the NI Fire & Rescue Service and of course local residents and community organisations all joined in the Conversation. A community survey had been completed in advance of the Conversation and we were able to share the results and stimulate discussion as to how – in partnership – we could improve the community. A very positive evening resulted in a significant number of residents volunteering to join the Action group and move things forwards.  We’re excited to see what develops as Ste and Keeva, build on this foundation.

After a good night’s sleep (and freezing cold shower – but that’s another story!) we headed to The Vine – were you’ll find Keeva’s new ROC Office. Pictured with Debra and our Northern Ireland Ambassadors Jack and Gordon. The office has an amazing view over Belfast, but it is also a statement of our belief that the work in Northern Ireland is expanding rapidly and we will soon need space for voluntary staff to work alongside Keeva.

Last stop was Millbrook to meet the ROC team who have been working with Bauer Academy to research the social history of the community and put together in an audio podcast called Millbrook Uncovered. Researching skills, interviewing skills, editing skills, broadcasting skills have all been developed by these young people led by Kirsty and Pip. At a special launch event at the local community centre, over 50 residents turned out to support the team. As Keeva commented We are so proud of the young people for what they have achieved and we are excited by what is to come next in Millbrook. The evening celebration was concluded with a community BBQ. Apparently the Smokin Yankees were fantastic – unfortunately we were heading back to the airport and will have to take their word for it!