Anyone looking a quick access point into an overview of our historical episodes can find on wikipedia an ugly portrait under ‘Crumlin Road’. The interfaces are renowned for sectarian trouble and the statistics reveal that:
- 1 in 3 people in the area are living in the most deprived 10% of NI
- In some neighbourhoods the percentage of people with no qualifications is double the Belfast average
- Just 2-6% of young people will go to Grammar School and 23% get 5 GCSEs.
(source: Greater Shankill Strategic Regeneration Framework)
However despite the decline in living standards and education there is hope! Despite a traumatic past, many people of the area are contributing towards an emerging narrative of renewal, and of course, the hugely popular Crumlin Road ROC Café is bucking the trend as the number of young people visiting the drop-in continues to increase!
Volunteers from the local church and community partner with the NIFRS crew at Springfield Station, to connect with young people over snooker, pool, table tennis, Wii, football, dodgeball, cookery, craft, games & tuck. With 40 or 50 young people around it is certainly a noisy place on a Monday night but full of fun. Team leader Jack Drennan is aware that for many kids at home and school the ROC Café is the subject of conversation and the highlight of the week.
As ROC progresses in NI the challenge will be to further the training of leaders and to develop the life and social skills of all the young people attending. Raising their aspirations and bringing through future volunteers won’t necessarily be easy.
But together we can!
For more information about ROC in Northern Ireland contact [email protected]