Community leaders in the Shantallow have welcomed the removal of graffiti in the area by a group involved in a back-to-work scheme.
The clean-up operation was carried out by staff and volunteers from the Step Ahead programme which provides jobs from the long-term unemployed.
Cathal McCauley, manager of the Shantallow Community Residents Association, welcomed the initiative. “This most recent graffiti removal programme came about after numerous requests from local residents and Councillors and we’d like to thank the Housing Executive for the speedy response in supplying us with the necessary paint.
“This will be an ongoing programme and we are hoping to formalise this relationship with Housing Executive so we can access paint as and when required,” he said.
Mr McCauley also praised those involved in the scheme. “The Step Ahead programme enables us to employ people for a short period, only six months, but it is amazing how keen people are to work, even for a low wage and for such a short period.
“I often hear the so-called experts claiming that long term unemployed people ’don’t want to work’ or ‘are happy to stay on the dole’ but this programme blows that nonsense out of the water.
“We currently have seven Step Ahead employees and every one of them have been totally reliable, keen, and great to work with.
“While some previous employees have been lucky enough to get extended contracts, or found employment elsewhere, it’s a crying shame that we cannot employ these ‘workers’ for longer and with better money,” he said.
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan, said; “The Residents Association is doing a great job in improving the living environment for the residents of the Shantallow and Outer North area, and I appreciate the Housing Executive’s contribution to the clean up as well. “