Project Directory - Project Entry
|Project Title:||Groundwork's Marks and Spencer Youth Environment Programme (Gobnascale & Irish St Estates)
The Youth Environment Programme has been operating for 8 years
in Groundwork Trusts in England and Wales. In 1995 Groundwork
Northern Ireland, one of a network of 43 Groundwork Trusts throughout
the UK, was successful in bringing the campaign to Northern Ireland.
It chose to work with youth from Gobnascale (St Brecan's High
School) and Irish Street (Clondermot High School), two neighbouring
housing estates in the Waterside area of Londonderry. The Gobnascale
Housing estate is predominantly Catholic, and the Irish street
estate is predominantly Protestant. Both Estates have high rates
of unemployment and a higher than average percentage of young
The Youth Environment Programme's aim in Northern Ireland is to
bring Catholic and Protestant teenagers together to work on an
environmental project which will raise their awareness, stimulate
action and increase their social and personal skills and help
improve their local living environment. This is a three year
programme and is funded by Marks and Spencer and the Central Community
The funding has and is currently being used to operationalise
Agenda 21 at a local level through a wide variety of small-scale
environmental projects which are selected, developed and implemented
by the youth.
These projects have included the following:
* Construction of a wildlife garden at St Brecan's High School:
In early January 1996, youth from both Clondermot and St Brecan's
met to create a wildlife garden at St Brecan's School. A local
contractor was employed to construct the pond. Over a week long
period Groundwork involved Conservation Volunteers Northern Ireland
to deliver a series of lectures to different classes from both
schools on how to plant trees and the benefits of improving the
environment. The youth were then actively involved in planting
the tree species under the guidance of Conservation Volunteers
Project Officers. No vandalism has occurred to date.
* M&S Youth Environment Launch:
In January 1996 the three year programme was officially launched
at a ceremony in St Brecan's School. An estimated 60 people turned
up for the ceremony which was led by Groundwork's chairman, Frank
Johnston. Special guests at the event were the Lord Mayor of
Derry, the Right Honourable John Kerr and UTV presenter Julian
Simmons. Business Woman of the Year, the manageress of the Derry
Marks and Spencer store also spoke at the event along with the
headmasters from both schools.
* Visits to Lurgan Fibre:
On the 8th March 1996 youngsters from both schools visited the
above exhibition, presented by 'Self Help', Hacketstown, Co.Carlow
at the Central Library, Foyle Street, Derry. The youth saw examples
of how African Tribes have used their ingenuity to create household
implements e.g. toys, agricultural tools, kitchen tools out of
rubbish. Their creations, many of which are sold at markets,
enable the tribes to be self-sufficient. The youth were inspired
and were circulated information on the recycling of paper, metal
* Video Project:
Back in December 1995, the youth went on a five day training course
to learn how to record and edit a video production. From January
to March, Derry Media Access assisted the Youth in recording a
video capturing how they see their local environment and how they
would like it changed. They interviewed pupils, staff, headmasters
and local community representatives. The video is to be edited
by Derry Media Access and ready for the pupils to view when they
return to school after the summer break. The youth plan to use
the video to pinpoint areas they would like to see environmentally
improved. They will attempt during the remainder of the programme
to consult with the Housing Executive, Belfast City Council, DOE,
and the local community to develop sketch designs proposing how
these areas could be realistically improved for its residents.
* Fashion Show, Magee College, Derry:
On the 6th June the youth travelled by coach to the University
of Ulster, Magee College, to see the final year art students'
fashion show dress rehearsal. A section of the Fashion Show focused
on recycled outfits created by the students. The youth were taken
aback by the imaginative display and decided they would like to
run a similar event in the Waterside area of Derry.
* Fashion Fix:
On the evening of 28th June 1996, the general public were invited
to a very unique fashion show to be held in the Broomhill Hotel,
Derry. More than 150 people turned up for what was a most colourful
display of outfits. The event kicked off with dancing from the
St Brecan's Youth Club Dancers, who modelled T-shirts which were
hand painted by the youth in workshops. This was followed by
'teenage fashion', a collection of outfits donated by local stores
and modelled by the youth themselves. The second part of the
show was entitled 'Recycled Fashion' and consisted of outfits
created and modelled by the youth. This section was inspired
by their visit to Lurgan Fibre, 'The Value of Rubbish' exhibition
and Magee College Fashion Show. It comprised of 16 colourful
outfits made from a variety of materials including old car seat
belts, fishing net, toilet rolls, crepe paper, raffia, wallpaper,
cloth, withy sticks, plastic bags, plastic tubing. The climax
was an ornate caged wedding dress made using masking paper, plastic
tubing, and withy sticks. Each section of the show was broken
by modern dancing from the St Brecan's Youth Club Dancers. The
event was compered by the hilarious UTV presenter Julian Simmons.
A draw was held at the event and a £100 Marks and Spencer
clothes voucher presented to the lucky winner courtesy of M&S,
Derry. The event was a huge success and was a great finale to
the school year.
* Environmental improvements, Clondermot High School:
As stated in the last report, St Brecan's wildlife garden had
been completed by youth from both Clandermot and St Brecan's.
Now it was Clondermot's turn. Through the video project and
a few workshops, ideas from the pupils and teachers were suggested.
Eventually the main pedestrian entrance into the school was chosen
as it is high profile, very dilapidated and unkempt. This part
of the ground is strewn with litter and contains extremely poor
plant specimens which has an adverse affect on the pupils, teachers,
parents and the local community. The sketch design for the site
is now completed an d implementation is planned for Autumn, when
the pupils from both schools will again help with the marking
out and planning of the site.
Previously the youth had expressed an interest in developing recycling
units in each of the schools. The youth were inspired after their
trips to Lurgan Fibre, a recycling company and the 'Value of Rubbish'
exhibition that they visited early last year. Bins for aluminium
can recycling were placed in both schools in September 1996 and
many bagfuls have already been collected by both schools. From
this idea, the children have requested that they increase this
scheme to include paper and glass and this is currently being
investigated. Many other suggestions have also been gleaned (such
as linking into the National Spring Clean Campaign with everyone
in the Waterside area taking part for one of the ten days) and
these are currently being worked into this years programme.
The children through their youth clubs, have been making suggestions
for this programme to their youth tutors in school. These relate
to activities they have enjoyed the most so far e.g. 'Fashion
Fix', a recycled fashion show, but they have also states that
they would like to try and involve the local community more.
Several feasible ideas have been suggested and these are now the
basis of the work programme for the rest of the year.
* Residential/Environmental Art Workshops:
This took place at the beginning of April with 100 first formers
from both schools, 8 young leaders, 6 teachers and 4 youth workers.
The week's residential was held in Lough Melvin Holiday Centre,
Garrison, Co.Fermanagh, giving the children an opportunity to
remove themselves from the troubles in their own area, and have
the opportunity to visit a new destination which they would not
have had the opportunity to see otherwise. The main aim of the
residential was to give these pupils the opportunity to meet each
other in a relaxed, fun atmosphere while taking part in a series
of outdoor pursuit activities such as canoeing, archery, cycling
The residential also featured three workshops relating to the
1) Brick Sculpture - This involved the children carving
'wet'/'pre-fired' bricks and building them into four benches and
set into suitable sites around the Waterside.
2) Batik - This is a form of dying calico cloth after
treating the surface with a chosen pattern of hot wax. The theme
was anything relating to the environment and a lot of beautiful
work was created in a relatively short space of time.
3) Photography - The children were all given disposable
cameras to capture the essence of the residential and the surrounding
environment of Garrison, they also took part in photo-batik sessions
and self portraits.
All the children said that they thoroughly enjoyed the residential,
made many new friends and had a good basic understanding of the
importance of their environment.
Future Intended Activity:
* Touring Art Exhibition - Currently an exhibition of
all artwork completed is being planned and is expected to start
in October. It is hoped that it will tour around several sites
in the Waterside before moving to Derry City and later to Belfast.
The preparation will involve not just the pupils who took part
in the residential, but we are also hoping that the local community
will also take part, e.g. Top-of-the-hill Women's Sewing group
to sew the batik work into 2 banners etc.
* Implementation of Clondermot High School's Environmental
* 'Planning for Real'
- This would involve the local community all coming together to
give ideas and to state their feelings about how they would like
to improve their areas through a series of model making workshops.
The youth have gained a great deal of knowledge and skills during
the past two years which will help prepare them for when they
leave school. Throughout the activities outlined the youth had
the opportunity to liaise with people form many different backgrounds
giving them insight and confidence for when they do leave school.
They experienced the factory operations at Lurgan Fibre, the
University atmosphere at Magee College, the Derry Media Access
offices, the celebrities at the local radio station, the exquisite
hotel venue for the fashion show, communicated with shop owners
for the loan of costumes for the fashion show. At the launch
they met and spoke to the Lord Mayor of Derry, Julian Simmons,
manageress of M&S Derry, etc. There has also been a great
deal of educational benefits with the youth having had talks and
lectures presented by the CVNI on tree planting i.e. why plant
trees, how to plant trees, plant maintenance etc. The youth also
had classes led by the Art & Design lecturer on clothes design,
materials and manufacture. The site visits to the Lurgan Fibre
exhibition were also very educational. Derry Media Access ran
a week's lectures on video recording and editing. One of the
main outcomes so far is that the two groups from different traditions
are not only communicating with each other, but friendships have
been created and the in-built barriers between the two groups
are being forgotten about. These are all new experiences for
the youth at St Brecan's and Clondermot thanks to the Marks And
Spencer Youth Environment Programme.
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