Young people come together to unite Ardoyne and Ballysillan

Date published: 21 March 2019

Young people aged 11-24 from across Ardoyne and Ballysillan came together at Girdwood Community Hub to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the Uniting Ardoyne and Ballysillan Programme.

DfC Permanent Secretary Tracy Meharg with two children from Ardoyne and Ballysillan

This is a cross community youth sport and creativity programme delivered by the Department for Communities (DfC). It is one of the seven headline actions included in the Northern Ireland Executive Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Strategy. Since it’s launch in October 2018, around 100 young people aged 11-16 from Ardoyne and Ballysillan have taken part in a wide range of sports, physical and creative activities. Participants have enjoyed connecting with other young people and engaging in team building activities, sport sessions and creative activities.

At the core of each session, good relations themes have been incorporated into the activities alongside facilitated sessions to help the young people to explore and learn about each other’s culture and identity. 

Alongside the 11-16 programme, young people aged 16-24 have been involved in training aimed at unlocking leadership skills through a fun and interactive programme. As their confidence and skills grow, these 16-24 year olds will be afforded the opportunity to assist with delivery of the 11-16 year old programme and in turn help create the next generation of community leaders.

The celebration event, entitled ‘Togetherness’, gave guests the opportunity to see demonstrations of the kind of activities the young people have been involved in, as well as a display of artwork created by the young people through the creative sessions. There was also the opportunity to see videos and photos from the programme and hear speeches from those involved over the past six months.

Speaking at the event DfC Permanent Secretary Tracy Meharg said: “It is the young participants and the young leaders of the Uniting Ardoyne and Ballysillan Programme that have made it such a success.  The Young Leaders have clearly been challenged through the exciting training package and I have no doubt will become the next generation of community leaders.  Their efforts will have inspired the Young Participants who themselves have worked well together through a series of sports, physical and creativity sessions which has worked well to promote good relations.”

Caroline Delaney of Ashton added, “The Togetherness celebration event at Girdwood Community Hub provided the young people involved in the TBUC Uniting Communities programme an opportunity to showcase some of the sports, physical, creative and good relations activity they have been involved in over the last six months. Ashton are delighted to have successfully delivered the first phase of the programme in partnership with Ardoyne Youth Centre, Ardoyne Youth Enterprises, North Belfast Alternatives, Fab Lab, New Lodge Arts and TAMHI. Caitlin Ewing from Ardoyne Youth Centre and Marc Young from North Belfast Alternatives deserve a lot of credit acting as community coordinators to provide the platform for young people to come together to help build a uniting community”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Northern Ireland Executive’s Together Building a United Community Strategy (T:BUC) was published on 23 May 2013.
  2. The Department for Communities leads on the development of a cross community youth sport, physical and creative activity programme, ‘Uniting Communities’ which is one of the seven headline actions under T:BUC. 
  3. The Uniting Ardoyne and Ballysillan Programme is a cross community sports and creativity programme which sits under the T:BUC priority 'Our children and young people'.  It aims to ‘continue to improve attitudes among young people and to build a community where they can play a full and active role in building good relations.’
  4. This Uniting Communities programme has been delivered on behalf of DfC by Ashton as lead organisation, in partnership with Ardoyne Youth Centre, Ardoyne Youth Enterprises, North Belfast Alternatives, Fab Lab, New Lodge Arts and TAMHI. It involves community based activity for 11-16 year olds and a Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors programme for 16-24 year olds with the training elements delivered by Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and Peace Players NI.

To find out further details please contact DfC Press Office initially on  028 9082 3504 or alternatively via email at    

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