Steps taken to tackle Monkstown problems

Former Monkstown School head boy (2011-12) James Neill and principal Nigel Pell-Ilderton at the Redeeming Our Communities Conversation event. INNT 42-606con
Former Monkstown School head boy (2011-12) James Neill and principal Nigel Pell-Ilderton at the Redeeming Our Communities Conversation event. INNT 42-606con
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TENTATIVE first steps were taken this week to establish a community resource for the people of Monkstown to help combat anti-social behaviour and other social problems in the area.

Members of the local community took part in the event in Monkstown Community School with Manchester-based charity organisation Redeeming Our Communities (ROC).

ROC has over 30 community projects reaching over 1,500 people a week in various locations throughout the UK and all with a proven track record of reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

The first ROC project started in Northern Ireland in Ballymena last year and - according to the organisation - has already shown a 60 per cent reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

ROC is endorsed by the Fire Service, police and various community stakeholders.

At last week’s event a number of issues were identified including the influence of paramilitaries, fear among the older people and drug and alcohol problems which affect the Monkstown community.

The event explored the possibility of establishing a ROC Cafe project which would take place on Saturday evenings and could help to allievate some of the problems in the area.

Monkstown School principal Nigel Pell-Ilderton said: “We had a wide ranging discussion about many of the issues affecting young people and the community in Monkstown.

“The main problem we found was with Saturday nights and that there is a lack of activities for young people in the area.

“There is plenty of stuff for them to do throughout the week, but things all shut down for Saturday night and that, it seems, is when people find themselves in bother.”

He continued: “The idea of a youth service cafe in the area could help to allievate the problems and give young people a place to go.

“But what is important is that this is not solely one person’s responsibility and there is a wide range of public involvement so that as many people as possible feel they are contibuting.”

He added: “We will look to put together the ideas and issues discused at the meeting and work on a way forward from here.

“It was a very positive meeting, but if nothing comes from it at least we had the meeting and people have been introduced to each other and that in itself is progress.”

To get involved with the project email info@monkstown.newtownabbey.ni.sch.uk.