Young People Make a Difference in Derry / Londonderry
“A group of people divided by nothing and united with a purpose”. That is how Martin Montgomery, the leader of a cross-community youth volunteering project, described a team of 130 young people in Derry / Londonderry. Streetreach On The Move brought together young people from across traditional divides but united in one purpose – to find practical ways of serving the people of the city, at the beginning of July.
The theme of young people as beacons of hope in our community is one we are familiar with following President Obama’s recent speech in The Waterfront Hall. The 130 young volunteers with Streetreach On The Move demonstrated an ability to work together for the common good in Derry / Londonderry.
During the first week of July five young teams did their bit for the city by getting involved in all sorts of practical action – everything from litter picking, painting, gardening as well as games such as lots of fun activities for local young people.
The cross-community teams worked in Clooney, The Brandywell, Tullyalley, Steelstown and the city centre. Streetreach On The Move created partnerships between churches and community organisations across the community. What united them was a purpose – to serve the people of Derry / Londonderry.
As well as teams working around the city a city-centre team spent time each day praying for the city and for all the businesses in the area.
The 130 young volunteers with Streetreach On The Move were gathered from across the community. As well as coming from the city and the northwest they also came from places like Belfast, Dublin and even Co Mayo. Volunteers from the USA, who came to be part of it, also joined them.
Streetreach On The Move was a joint initiative by Derry and Raphoe diocese and Summer Madness, the largest annual Christian youth festival in Ireland. It was planned as a contribution to the celebration of Derry / Londonderry being the UK City of Culture Year.
Martin Montgomery is Diocesan Youth Officer for the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. Talking about Streetreach On the Move he said, “The only agenda that this cross-community team had was to serve. It was amazing to see young people cleaning, weeding and painting all around our community – finding practical ways of helping to make our city an even better place for everyone”.
Planning for Streetreach On the Move has been going on from the beginning of 2013. Relationships and partnerships have been built with local community organizations. Derry City Council has been very helpful in lending equipment, as has the Department for Social Development and a number of other funders in helping to fund the project. Streetreach On the Move began on Tuesday 2nd July and ended on Sunday 7th July.
“This is a city reaching out to shape its own future”. So said Rev Adrian McCartney, one of the organisers. Describing the inspiration that the youth volunteers brought he continued, “It remembers its past but is no longer limited by it”.