Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has endorsed the designation of the Shankill area as a Children and Young People’s Action Zone.
Speaking following a meeting with the Greater Shankill Community Convention in Parliament Buildings, the Minister said:
“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Greater Shankill Community Convention for their commitment to improving outcomes and life chances for children and young people in their local area.
“Your ambition is inspirational. I endorse your community’s determination to take action to transform the lives of children and young people and most importantly I want to play my part in supporting you in your work in the months and years ahead.”
Reflecting on the support provided by the Department of Education, the Minister said:
“I am totally committed to targeting resources to wherever they are needed most. As a result of changes to the Common Funding Formula that I made earlier in the year, schools in the Shankill area have received in this financial year alone an extra £1million to help them meet the needs of their pupils.
“Many millions of pounds are being invested from my Department’s capital budget in new schools and in minor works to improve the learning experience.
“The youth sector in the Greater Shankill area has also benefitted from investment including £1.85million for a new Glencairn Youth Facility which I am giving the go-ahead to today. This modern purpose-built facility will provide a safe and welcoming environment for young people to meet, make friends and take part in structured activities.
“All of these and other initiatives delivered through the Delivering Social Change Project, Extended Schools and Sure Start are designed to create maximum impact in raising standards and helping to tackle underachievement in education.”
Concluding, the Minister said:
“You have recognised that building aspirations and helping your young people reach their full potential require effort on the part of an entire community. Ministers and their departments have a role to play but so much more can be achieved when a community itself takes the lead. I wish you every success in implementing your framework and in creating a Greater Shankill Children’s and Young People’s Action Zone.”