Around 200 young people from across Derry last week came together to serve their city as part of an unique summer scheme.
Organised by the Church of Ireland Derry and Raphoe diocese and the Summer Madness Christian Youth festival, Streetreach On The Move brought together young people from across traditional divides but united in one purpose – to find practical ways of serving the people of the city.
“The only agenda that this cross-community team had was to serve,” Diocesan Youth Officer Martin Montgomery said.
“After spending each morning praying and training it was amazing to see young people cleaning, weeding and painting all around our community – finding practical ways of living out their Christian faith, helping to make our city an even better place for everyone.”
He said those who took part were a “group of people divided by nothing and united with a purpose.”
Five young teams did their bit for the city by getting involved in all sorts of practical action – everything from litter picking, painting, gardening as well as games such as lots of fun activities for local young people.
The cross-community teams worked in Clooney, The Brandywell, Tullyally, Steelstown and the city centre. As well as teams working around the city a city-centre team spent time each day praying for the city and for all the businesses in the area.
Streetreach On The Move created partnerships between churches and community organisations across the community.
Organised to mark the City of Culture year, planning has been ongoing since the start of the year and relationships and partnerships have been built with local community organizations.
Derry City Council has been very helpful in lending equipment, as has the Department for Social Development and a number of other funders in helping to fund the project.
“This is a city reaching out to shape its own future,” said Rev Adrian McCartney, one of the organisers.
Describing the inspiration that the youth volunteers brought he continued, “It remembers its past but is no longer limited by it.”
The 200 young volunteers with Streetreach On The Move demonstrated an ability to work together for the common good in Derry.
In a symbolic act the teams who were working in The Brandywell, Clooney, Steelstown and Tullyally walked from the different parts of the city and converged on The Guildhall Square at 6.45 on Saturday.
Here they were joined by 150 volunteers from another project run by Cornerstone Church).
In what was described on social media as a Prayer Flash Mob the assembled volunteers prayed for the welfare of the whole city and its business community.
The 200 young volunteers were gathered from across the community. As well as coming from the city and the northwest they also came from places like Belfast, Dublin and even Co Mayo. Volunteers from the USA, who came to be part of it, also joined them.
On Sunday the volunteers visited Long Tower Church to update parishioners on their city wide work. Streetreach On the Move began on July 2 and ended on July 7.