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Queen’s signs MoU to formalise long-running partnership with Shankill community

Queen’s University Belfast has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Greater Shankill Partnership, which will formalise their shared commitment to further collaborative work to progress and enhance the Greater Shankill area.

The MoU was signed as part of the Greater Shankill Community Convention which was held on Thursday 22 February in the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road.

Professor Sir Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“For almost 180 years Queen’s has been a constant presence and a force for positive transformation in Belfast, and throughout that time, people have been at the heart of all that we do. We are we committed to “giving back” and to making a meaningful contribution to society. 

“We can count among our students, staff and alumni many members of the Greater Shankill community and as a University, we have been formally working in partnership with the Shankill area since 2014 when the Children and Young People Zone was created.”

The Zone was established with a mission to support every child and young person in the Greater Shankill on the journey to realising their potential, and, in doing so, transforming a generation. Over the past 10 years Queen’s and local community organisations have worked together on a number of projects that have had positive tangible outcomes for the people of the Greater Shankill. The projects include:

  • The ‘Conversations’ project- which involved engaging with children and young people from the Greater Shankill and validating their conversations. ‘The Story I want my life to be’, the interim report on this work, was published in November 2023. The project affords a voice to young people to help shape a vision of what their future might look like.
  • Queen’s Communities and Place initiative (QCAP) provided the Greater Shankill’s BUILD project with technical support, local housing market analysis and a suite of spatial data products to help support their vision for physical renewal across the area. QCAP have also supported BUILD’s engagement with key statutory government agencies like the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Department for Communities to lobby for the phased release of vacant housing sites across the area.
  • Queen’s has been supporting an informal network of the eight primary schools and three post primary schools which serve the Greater Shankill area. By affording opportunities to support collaboration among the schools, providing leadership support, teacher training and mentoring, and enhanced peer support, the schools ecosystem in this area is working collectively to explore new and additional ways to work.
  • 42 families were given iPads as part of a scheme designed to bridge the technology gap among primary school children in the area and support home learning during the pandemic. This was funded by a generous gift from Santander to the Queen’s Foundation.
  • The Community Archaeology Programme NI was launched earlier in the month at Queen’s, with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This will see three years of programme delivery, including community and school excavations, guided tours and much more. These programmes are crucially important in uncovering and preserving the rich heritage of the Greater Shankill area, and for creating enhanced education opportunities for younger and older people alike.
  • Queen’s partnered with Impact Training in Lanark Way to set up a coding programme where Queen’s students deliver training in the form of weekly coding sessions to IT students at Impact Training.

To support this important work, Queen’s has announced that it will fund a three-year post, based on the Shankill Road, to work locally on existing and emerging programmes. This employment opportunity will provide a valuable resource in advancing this important relationship between community and academia.

Dr Jackie Redpath, CEO of Greater Shankill Partnership, said:

“Queen’s has been walking with us from the first days of the Greater Shankill Children and Young People Zone. Their support on our journey to achieve better outcomes for this generation of children and young people has been invaluable.

"The work with Queen’s has now grown across many disciplines and we greatly welcome their on-going commitment to the Greater Shankill community as expressed in today’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.”

Mary Montgomery, Principal of Belfast Boys’ Model School, added: “The principals of the primary and post primary schools in the Shankill area are incredibly grateful to Queen’s for its sustained, extensive, and multifaceted support of the pioneering, area based, school improvement work being done.

“This support has been both practical in terms of financial and strategic in providing advice and guidance to distil the work into a strategic and cohesive plan for the schools in the area.

“Queen’s has shown its commitment to the Shankill area by investing in the health, wellbeing and professional development of school leadership, middle leaders and newly qualified teachers. In addition, Queen’s has facilitated access to high quality teaching and learning resources for pupils.”


Media inquiries to Jemma Coulter from Queen's Communications Office at