Recent violence in Dublin’s North Inner City has led to the establishment of a Ministerial Taskforce charged with supporting the community to deal with the present situation and work together to envision and plan for a better future.
To ensure that the voices of children and young people in the area would be heard, the Early Learning Initiative at National College of Ireland has been engaged with the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on a project called the North East Inner City Brighter Futures Initiative.
The project gives a voice to children and young people of the North Inner City and allows them to be heard on the challenges the community faces, and their views on healing the legacy of long-term issues as well as more recent trauma.
Dr Josephine Bleach, Director of the Early Learning Initiative at NCI, commented:
“Through their involvement in the Brighter Futures Initiative and using the Restorative Practice model, the children and young people in the North East Inner City are helping the shape the future of their community. Their engagement and commitment to this on-going process is testament to the strength and resilience of this community, and will ensure that their voices will be heard and help to shape future government policy”.
Restorative Practice is the methodology chosen as it provides a framework to building and maintaining interpersonal relationships, resolving conflict and repairing damaged relationships. It can support a wide range of organisations and sectors, including schools, early years services, youth services, workplaces, communities and families. Its aim is to build strong, happy communities and to manage conflict or tensions, by actively developing good relationships and resolving conflict in a healthy manner.
Over the course of the Project, more than 140 staff and close to 500 children and young people have been involved, from 6 youth services and 7 afterschool services in the North East Inner City. Separate training on Restorative Practices has been provided for the staff and children/young people, followed by participation in restorative conversations addressing the following questions:
If our vision is to make Dublin’s North East Inner City one of the best places in Ireland to live, work and rear a family,
• What is working well at the moment? What do we really like about our community and want to keep for the future?
• What would we like to change or improve to make life better for the people who live and work in the North East Inner City? How can we do this?
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, pictured above with some of the project participants, said:
“Young people are shaping the future of the North Inner City. I am delighted to be returning for my seventh visit in recent months to meet children and teenagers who are proud of where they live.
While the work is on-going its clear a number of themes are emerging. They believe in neighbourhoods with a strong identity and sense of community.
The local children and teens have a passion for arts, culture and sport in particular the Dublin Team – up the Dubs!
The next few weeks are going to be very exciting as preparations are made for the launch of the final report and its recommendations which will help secure an historic area rooted in our past – but now looking to its future.”
Dr Josephine Bleach also said:
“The key objectives of The Early Learning Initiative at National College of Ireland are to support the educational, emotional and social development of the children and families in the Dublin Docklands and East Inner City area, and to act as a Centre of Excellence from which other communities can learn, with models of best practice developed and used across Ireland to address systemic issues that affect families and young people in marginalised communities.”
A Restorative Practice programme is also being rolled out across the Dublin Docklands and East Inner City, funded by the Government's Area-Based Childhood (ABC) Programme. Restorative Practice is a collaborative and fair approach to working in partnership with children, parents, educators and the wider community in the Dublin Docklands and East Inner City.