On Wednesday 9th May 2012, Redeeming Our Communities was officially launched in Belfast with representatives from across Northern Ireland. It was an exciting night of inspirational stories, highlighting the good work already being done and showing how ROC can play its part in bringing transformation to communities in Northern Ireland.

We were delighted to host over 80 civic leaders for a guest reception before the main event started. Many people commented that this occasion was the first time that the people who attended were all in the same room at one time! It was a wonderful opportunity to share our vision with so many senior leaders.

During the main showcase event we were able to talk about the ROC vision and what we hope to achieve in Northern Ireland, through empowering local people to see safer, kinder communities. The evening also featured performances from Belfast Community Gospel Choir, Janet Devlin (X-Factor Finalist), Joanne Hogg, Vibe Academy, Revie School of Dance and others. Hosts included Jim Eastwood from The Apprentice, currently Director of Groupon in NI. Many resources were exhibited with the aim of helping you change your neighbourhood.

Debra interviewed leaders from public services and politicians including Chief Constable Matt Baggott, Dale Ashford from the Fire and Rescue service, Minister David Ford and Junior First Minister Martina Anderson MEP.

Other highlights included Debra’s interview with Mickey Harte who is the current (and most successful) manager of Tyrone Gaelic football team. He spoke powerfully of the impact faith has had upon his life and particularly in the devastation following the murder of his daughter, Michaela. He also spoke about the value of positive adult role models for young people, citing his mother as an example of someone who played a key role in his early years and in the lives of others in the community.

Part of the evening looked at how ROC will be developed in Northern Ireland. Various people local were interviewed including Chloe Hemphill from the Girls Brigade, the largest youth movement in NI with over 22,000 girls. Chloe and the GB are partnering with ROC to develop a ROC Centre community hub in Ballymoney.

This event was our seventh city-wide launch as ROC is spreading across the UK. One of the things we did differently this time around was to host a briefing for leaders the following day. Forty leaders attended and it gave us an immediate opportunity to measure the success of the launch and the potential take-up for local projects.