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Greater Shankill Children and Young People Zone

The Greater Shankill Children & Young People Zone is a framework within which the lives of this generation of children & young people will be transformed. Its 20 year vision sees every child in Greater Shankill realising their potential and shaping their future.

The journey towards this vision will involve conversations with every child and young person to hear the story they want for their lives. Together, we will chart a pathway to get there and sustained support will be wrapped around them on their journey, for as long as it takes.

This support comes from families and individuals, and from the willing in organisations invested in children & young people.

The Zone is variously be the framework, the space, the crucible, within which this is developed and coordinated.

Our Commitment

The vision for the destination of the Zone’s 20 year journey is that

“All our children & young people will be realising their potential & shaping their future.”

To achieve this vision, every person working under the banner of the Zone makes the following five promises to the children and young people:

  • We promise to do everything we can to support you to realise your potential
  • We promise to always put you at the heart of our work
  • We promise to be open, honest and realistic in our work with you
  • We promise to always work together with you and others
  • We promise to support you to choose your own path and set your own goals.

Our Responsibilities

The Mission of the Zone is to support every child and young person in the Greater Shankill on the journey to realising their potential.

Every person who works under the banner of the Zone does so in adherence to the Zone’s five Core Values:

  1. A long term commitment to this generation of children & young people
  2. A child centred holistic approach
  3. The work within the Zone will be open and transparent
  4. Collaborative and partnership working at every level
  5. Outcome driven, evidence and learning based approach

How it works

The Zone will support every child on the journey to realising their potential by first discovering what they want the ‘story’ of their life to be. This is as simple (and as complex) as having a ‘conversation’ with every child and young person and their families.

Through a series of conversations, the Zone and the child will co-design a ‘pathway’ to realise the story they want for their life. The Zone will walk with each child and young person on their pathway, and provide as much or as little ‘wraparound support’ as they need to achieve their desired outcomes.

That essential support will come from ‘the willing’ in agencies, organisations, groups – statutory, private, voluntary and community based.

The Zone is variously the framework, the space, the crucible within which this will all be developed and co-ordinated. For the community, the Zone will provide focus, coherence and alignment for programmes and initiatives, as it will for Government Departments, Agencies, Institutions and all relevant sectors.


The Greater Shankill Children & Young People Zone is ultimately responsible to the children, young people and families in the Greater Shankill area. It takes its authority from the area’s Community Convention and is responsible to the Agreed Agenda Group set up by the Convention. The Agreed Agenda Group comprises all the area’s elected representatives and key community constituencies.

A small team, drawn from existing programs, currently supports the Zone’s development.

Our Patrons


Sir Nigel Hamilton

Sir Nigel Hamilton, KCB, DL was Head of the N. Ireland Civil Service until 2008. Hamilton was made an Honorary Graduate of the University of Ulster and awarded a Doctor of the University in recognition of his contribution to public administration in N. Ireland.


Baroness May Blood

May Blood, Baroness Blood of Blackwatertown, MBE is a Labour member of the British House of Lords. Blood was born and raised in Belfast and worked in a linen mill from 1952-90 where she soon became an active member of the trade union and a shop steward.


The Late Prof. Patrick Johnston

Patrick Johnston FMedSci was Vice-Chancellor and President of Queen’s University Belfast from 2014 until 2017. Johnston was also a leading expert in cancer research; he received the 2013 International Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize for his work in translating discovery science for the benefit of cancer patients.

Sen. George J. Mitchell

George John Mitchell, Jr., GBE is an American lawyer, businessman and politician. A Democrat, Mitchell served as a United States Senator from Maine from 1980 to 1995 and as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995. He served as the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland under President Bill Clinton.


The Children & Young People Zone covers the Greater Shankill Area of Belfast. The Greater Shankill area is defined by the community living within it; the area extends outwards from the Shankill Road to North and West Belfast, City Centre and Belfast’s Hills.

For statistical purposes, the Zone uses the geography of the BRO Greater Shankill Neighbourhood Renewal Area.

Where it came from

The Zone’s vision will take 20 years to realise, but it’s also been 20 years in the making.

From the first time the Greater Shankill Community expressed a need for designation in 1995, the concept has evolved from the idea of an education action zone, to a zone that would provide more holistic support. The Greater Shankill community’s idea is now being realised.

1995 – Community planning days

The public first expressed a need for Greater Shankill to be designated as “an area for priority education treatment” as part of an action plan.  (derailed by a change in direct rule minister)

2002 – Community Convention

The Greater Shankill Community Convention was formed as a mechanism for the people of Greater Shankill to discuss what change they wanted for their community.

2004 – Community Convention

Greater Shankill Community Convention expresses ‘grave reservations’ about the capacity of government departments to engage in joined-up working. (2008 Action Plan)

2008 – SRF

The Greater Shankill Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) proposes the establishment of an Education and Learning Action Zone with support from local stakeholders and steering group. (Strategic Regeneration Framework)

2011 – Community Convention

Two Community Conventions were held to agree a way forward for the community.  The designation of an Education Action Zone with a Partnership for Education was adopted by the Convention, along with a focus on improving quality of life for every person in the Shankill.

2013 – Manifesto for Education

The Agreed Agenda group on behalf of the Community Convention presented the Minister of Education with a Manifesto for Education calling for the designation of an Education Action Zone.

2014 – Declaration & Designation

The Community Convention declared the Greater Shankill a Children & Young People Zone.

The Zone was designated at an unprecedented meeting in Stormont and backed by five government ministers and their departments.

2015 – Laying the Foundations

The Zone’s Vision, Mission and Core Values were launched and its Promises to Children & Young People were made. Intensive strategising with partners began and the first ‘conversations’ with young people began.

The number of government ministers supporting the Zone rose to seven. The Zone invited Prof. Alan Dyson to speak at its 1st Anniversary Seminar.

2016 – The Pathfinders

The methodology of the Zone’s Conversation process was developed through action research with Queens University Belfast’s Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation and a team of Conversation Pathfinders. A Platform Group was created to further develop the Zone through a wide range of experience from community, statutory, public and education professionals.