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Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations
Why riot? Community, choices, aspirations

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1 Welcome to the community

You heard from Matty and Dylan earlier, so let’s take a moment to meet the rest of the group from ACT Initiative and Boys Model School project, along with William who has worked with The Open University to put this course together for you.

Figure 3: Group illustration from left to right: Dylan, Matty, Brandon, Adam (top row) and Ashton, Ryan, Stephen, William (bottom row).

Dylan, Matty, Brandon, Adam, Ashton, Ryan, Stephen and William are from the Shankill, a Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist (PUL) community in West/North Belfast. The Shankill has become an international tourist destination because of its history of conflict and is often in the news, like when the riots happened in the Spring of 2021. Many people seem to have views about them, because of where they come from. So, the boys have taken part in making this course to share what they have been learning with William, and to tell their own stories.

Figure 4: Illustration of William

And this is William. William is the Project Director for the ACT Initiative, a conflict transformation programme based on the Shankill Road. As a young man William was drawn into the conflict in Northern Ireland and a result of that is that he spent almost 13 years in the Maze and Long Kesh prison. His personal background is one of the reasons why he does the work he does today with young people.

For these boys growing up in the Shankill, in Northern Ireland, street disturbances, including clashes with the police and young people from other areas, is not something new. You may also have a history of conflict, violence or street disturbances in your areas and amongst your communities too. One aspect of this course is to explore how external forces can shape your thinking and choices particularly in situations of social conflict. Let’s start by considering a seemingly simple question to help you understand yourself better.