The Club are delighted to award the 2017-18 John Savage Trophy and Bursary to the unique project R-City, based in North Belfast,which is having an immense impact on young people. President Rosemary presented Monday 18 June to Thomas Turley (Leader) and Pierce McConnell (former participant now a volunteer).
Inaugurated in 2009, in memory of former member the late John Savage, the John A Savage Memorial Trophy and Bursary is awarded by the Club annually to the individual or group selected as giving great service to the Community.
R-City is a project between Shankill & Ardoyne communities that works with young people to enhance their personal development through an informal approach. It was founded by two dedicated Youth Workers, Alan and Thomas, who identified the need to enable, empower and support young people. It has developed extensive links not only throughout this island but also internationally and links with YouthAction and the Belfast Activity Centre (both previous recipients of the John Savage Award). In addition, the project is well respected by statutory and voluntary sectors in the area. The name ‘R-City’ is a play on “Our–City” and CITY stands for - Communities Integrating Through Youth.
Following the presentation, Thomas outlined the history of R-City detailing how it came into operation and describing the whole concept of bringing young people together from the Ardoyne and Shankill communities of Belfast. Initially 15 teenagers (15years+) from each area on a 3 year cycle were taken to a 5-day camp held at Ballintoy in August. It is not just about meeting people from other areas of Belfast but developing relationships over time with both “sides” to the extent that they were happy in each other’s company. The venture has been so successful that the numbers applying have now expanded to 100+ per camp. This is an absolute limit on capacity with the facilities available.
R-City places focus on leadership - in work; in the community; in sport; friendship groups; whichever place or experience young people find themselves and it is is a leadership programme with 3 elements:
- leadership and developing a skills base
- education, employment and enterprise/entrepreneurship
- positive youth addresses the often negative image which young people have in communities
It is not a quick fix, rather it supports young people on an experiential, learning journey over the three year period commencing with the camp. Emphasis is placed on accreditation of training undertaken including first aid, drugs awareness and other relevant training courses tailored to suit the needs of the individual.