by Keeva Watson

ROC was formally launched in Northern Ireland in May 2012 at the Waterfront Arena when over 1500 people from different organisations joined us. Since then the work has continued to grow under the leadership of Keeva Watson, our full-time coordinator and in November we will be welcoming Victoria Duncan to our staff team in NI. Here are some of our exciting projects;

Rathfern: the ROC Café & Loft Youth started back in September on a new night, Friday! They’ve new volunteers and are enjoying having more space for their programme! Enjoy a new year of ROC Café!
Lower Shankill:  over the summer the Action Group ran a Keeping Safe programme with five different events for the local community. 300+ people of all ages engaged in the programme & there is appetite for more. Well Done all!
Newtownards Road: churches in area are in the planning stages of a ROC+COACH Community Mentoring programme for families. In process of finding funding for it.
St James: new members have joined the Action Group and the local Primary School are organising a mental health event on World Mental Health Day (10th October) which ROC will be part of.
Lower Falls: over the summer the Action Group organised the West Belfast School Uniform project collecting an incredible amount of donated uniforms from nursery schools, primary & post-primary schools. Over the 2 days of distribution in July, 105 families were supported in this way and many more have through the Foodbank at Conway Mill.

Carrickfergus: the Action Group are getting back into the swing of things after the summer break with lots of ideas for the months ahead. Since the ROC Conversation, we’ve seen lots of new connections between groups made and additional support given. 5 groups to date have been supported by the National Lottery Community Fund’s pilot funding programme. We’re also excited that Carrick & Larne are hosting Streetreach next summer.
Glenburn: ROC Glenburn have been working on a number of different initiatives as well as mapping. One key development has been the partnership with the Community Support Programme in East Belfast Mission to run programmes for parents and carers in the area. Glenburn Methodist Church also built on the success of the ‘Meet the Neighbours’week in May and hosted a ‘Meet the Neighbours’ morning on 28thSeptember to show the community their new renovated facilities & to promote their organisations and events.
Larne: the Action Group have had two meetings since their ROC Conversation in May. On Saturday 28th September they organised a ‘ROC Your Mind’ women’s mental health event in Larne Market Yard. Over 30 ladies of all ages enjoyed the programme which included a talk on health & well-being, a taster zumba session, information stands, goody bags & refreshments. A great event which will built upon in the coming weeks. Well Done to the Mental Health sub-group!
Ballysillan: The ROC Conversation took place  on 24thSeptember in Carr’s Glen Primary School. Over 60 local people joined us as we celebrated the great things already happening, identified the needs and explored possible solutions. The ROC Conversation report was emailed out to guests today and 23 people have already signed up to be part of the Action Group, which will be led by Rev Alan Conly. Their first meeting is on Monday 21stOctober!

School Uniform project in West Belfast
This initiative was one of the most humbling experiences and to be able to support over 105 families was incredible. Well Done to the ROC Lower Falls Action Group and to Tony Meehan who worked tirelessly to get it off the ground. Check out our article here & consider getting involved or setting up a similar project in your area.