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The Innovation Zones team have been supporting the Greater Shankill Children and Young People Zone and their 20 year vision to transform the lives of those within the Shankill community, starting with a commitment to the children and young people.  Practically, this involves lifelong engagement (in the form of conversations) with children and young people to establish their goals and aspirations and to identify and provide wraparound support where necessary.  The process, protocol, guides, tools, resources, training mechanisms (for those significant adults holding the conversations with the children and young people) etc., for this process have been co-designed by the teams from CESI and the Shankill Children and Young People Zone.  Conversations with children and young people are on-going.  The findings from these conversations, as well as continually refining the process, will inform a child-centred, bottom up, outcomes framework for the community, which will inform service provision and community resource.

An in-depth PhD study, conducted by Mrs Eilise Sweeney and supervised by Ms Lesley Emerson and Dr Paul Best, is currently underway. This PhD study aims to explore the aspirations of the children and young people from the Shankill community, using participatory research methods.

To learn more about the Conversations project, please contact Dr Karen Orr, and to learn more about the PhD study, please contact Mrs Eilise Sweeney.

Please click here for an overview of Conversations





Currently, there is one key community-based participatory research intervention project that spans both the Colin and Shankill communities, that is, the ‘Crescendo’ project.  ‘Crescendo’ is inspired by ‘El Sistema’, a music education programme that boasts a range of benefits for the children involved and their wider communities.  Currently, the Innovation Zones team are working with the community leaders from the Colin and Shankill communities, as well as representatives from the Ulster Orchestra, on the development, implementation and evaluation of ‘Crescendo’, which is currently being delivered in four primary schools, two from each Innovation Zone.

An in-depth PhD study, conducted by Mr Conneth Poland and supervised by Dr Liam O'HareDr Jennifer Roberts and Professor Sarah Miller, is underway. The aim of this PhD research is to explore the theories of intervention and change that facilitate the pathways for three of Crescendo’s anticipated outcomes, i.e., musicality, self-regulation and a community outcome (parental engagement and community perception).

To learn more about Crescendo, please contact Dr Leeanne O'Hara, to learn more about the PhD study, please contact Conneth Poland.






Social Innovation Learning in Communities Course (SILC)

The Innovation Zones team is working with the Greater Shankill Children and Young People Zone and the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership to co-design a social innovation learning in communities (SILC) course.  Iterations of the course are being developed bespoke to each community with aims to:

Capacity build within the community on the foundations of evidence and social innovation;

Improve community practitioners’ and members of the community understanding of evidence and social innovation;

Provide the ability to reflect on how to design, implement, evaluate and apply social innovation in current and future professional lives.

The course is being developed with a number of core learning outcomes and assessment.  A ‘taster’ version of the course will be available for pilot early 2021.


To learn more about SILC please contact Dr Leeanne O’Hara or Dr Liam O’Hare (Innovation Zones Lead). This work has been funded by Urban Villages Initiative (The Executive Office).