Shared Village summer scheme for a shared future in Derry

The Waterside Shared Village Summer Scheme has brought over 240 children from the communities of Irish Street and Top of the Hill together in a special programme of activities, fun and friendship.

By Brendan McDaid
Friday, 5th August 2022, 11:22 am

This four-week programme, which has just been completed, is part of the wider Waterside Shared Village project.

The scheme was delivered at Hillcrest Trust An Chroí Community Hub in Top of the Hill and at Irish Street Youth & Community Association premises in Irish Street.

Each day, children arrived at their local community centre and travelled on foot with staff to whichever centre they were based in for the day. Organisers said the walking formed an integral part of the programme as it familiarises the children with their neighbouring community and dispels fears of not being able to enter certain areas.

Some of the children who took part in the Hillcrest Trust and Irish Street Youth and Community Association’s Waterside Shared Village Summer Scheme at the An Chroí Community Hub on Friday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2230GS – 023

They added that this once contested interface is being transformed into a shared space for all with children from both communities crossing forward and back twice a day during the month of July.

Next year the summer scheme will be delivered in the new Waterside Shared Village building, which is currently under construction on the site of the old Clondermot School and is due to be completed in autumn of this year.

Niree McMorris from Irish Street Youth & Community Association and Geraldine Doherty from Hillcrest Trust confirmed that the Waterside Shared Village Summer Scheme offers a fantastic opportunity to consolidate cross-community relationships within the Waterside by giving children the opportunity to build new relationships.

The summer scheme, they said, has been a visible manifestation of a shared future which involved the rotation of children between the two estates as well as allowing them to use community venues, spaces and services which were not located in their own area.

Serious concentration during the egg and spoon race at the Hillcrest Trust and Irish Street Youth and Community Association’s Waterside Shared Village Summer Scheme at the An Chroí Community Hub on Friday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2230GS – 025

In a joint statement, they said: “We are both delighted that the summer scheme has attracted over 240 children from both communities and we are encouraged that all the children were able to enjoy the programme while mixing seamlessly with children from other areas.

“The summer scheme has been running for the past four years, which allows the children to retain their friendship year on year.”

Waterside Shared Village is a project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Derry City & Strabane District Council (Lead Partner), Irish Street Youth & Community Association and Hillcrest Trust.

The partners have been awarded €8,057,292.72 to develop the Waterside Shared Village. This project will result in the transformation of an official interface area into a vibrant council owned community hub within the Waterside area, in which the neighbouring Irish Street and Top of the Hill communities jointly programme and deliver shared education; sport; health and well-being; cultural and primary/secondary after school provision on a sustained basis.

The Waterside Shared Village project will include a state of the art hub building and outdoor sports complex.

The aim is to build trust and reconciliation between the two communities by creating a safe place for residents to engage in activities together.

The community hub will include a hall that can be transformed into four meeting or training rooms; a community kitchen; office space and a suite of sports changing rooms.

The area around the hub will comprise of a multi-sport grass pitch for rugby, gaelic and soccer; a floodlit artificial 3G soccer pitch; a floodlit artificial cricket training area; and 4 floodlit tennis courts.