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

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This free course is based on a face-to-face course/workshops developed by William Mitchell from the Action for Community Transformation initiative (ACT) and facilitated by William and local community workers from the Shankill area of Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Why riot? is a collaboration between The Open University and the ACT Initiative.

The course was developed and co-authored by William Mitchell (project lead for ACT) and Gabi Kent (project and academic lead for The Open University).

It was developed with eight young people taking part in the ACT Initiative and Boys Model School project: Adam, Ashton, Brandon, Dylan, Matty, Ryan, Stephen and William, by William Mitchell (ACT) and members of The Open University in Ireland’s Time to Think [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] team Gabi Kent, Philip O’Sullivan, Jenny Meegan and Colette Hughes.

The Open University critical reader and expert adviser was Stephen Robinson. It was supported by John D’Arcy the National Director of The Open University in Ireland, and by the Belfast Boys’ Model School.

Audio and Video production team: Film and arial photography/media production, Hugh Pollock (Highgrove Media); producer/director: Gabi Kent, and edit producer: Clint Trofa (The Open University); Graphic artist: Ana Collins.

The Open University Open Learn team: Editor: Sofia Maruzza; Assistant Producer: Ana Collins; Digital Media Producer: Sas Amoah; Senior Producer: Luke Yorke; Legal and rights: Bernie Attwell.

We are very grateful to:

The Dúchas Oral History Archive, in particular Claire Hackett and to contributors Beatrice and Rosemary, for sharing their stories. Copyright for these oral hittory interviews remains with Dúchas.

The Shankill Area Social History Society (S.A.S.H). project in particular Johnny Dougan and to Bill Campbell, Mrs Margaret (Peggy) Hill and Andrew Johnston, for sharing their personal photos. Copyright for these images remains with (S.A.S.H).

Funders for this course include: the International Fund for Ireland (Peace Impact Programme for ACT), The Open University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and The Open University in Ireland.

Logo for The Open University in Ireland, logo for International Fund for Ireland, logo for ACT Initiative.Time to Think Logo: © The Open University

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence.

The material acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence (not subject to Creative Commons Licence). In line with guidance for facilitators and teachers, The Open University and Time to Think permit the use of OU copyright materials listed below, by educators and facilitators specifically for educational and non-commercial purposes, as long as it is used in keeping with the course content and with acknowledgement. For any other re-use, contact The Open University for permission:

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this free course:

Time to Think Logo: ©The Open University


Figure 1: Courtesy: Hugh Pollock

Figures 2, 3, 4: artwork: ©The Open University

Figure 5: desifoto/Getty Images

Figure 6: Women’s hope mural: courtesy © Gabi Kent

Figure 7: A map of the Shankill area and local community where the boys live annotated Google Map maps/ place/ Peace+Wall+Belfast/ @54.6019842,-5.9600518,3257m/ data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x48610866af37cba1:0x7701a715e2a2d9e!8m2!3d54.6009653!4d-5.9564282

Figure 8: slideshow Courtesy: © Shankill Area Social History Society (S.A.S.H).

Figure 9: ‘The Peacewall’, Cupar Street, Belfast. Courtesy: Gabi Kent

Figure 10: The Falls and the Shankill areas in West Belfast (Source: The Peacewall archive) Courtesy: Falls-Shankill ‘Peace wall’ Map © James O’Leary, 2015 []

Figure 11: artwork: © The Open University


Audios 1-4: Courtesy: Dúchas Oral History Archive, Falls Community Council


Video1: Worst Violence in streets for years: BBC News. © BBC (2021)

Video 2: Welcome to the Shankill: © The Open University, with thanks to ACT Initiative, Home - Action for Community Transformation (; Hugh Pollock and Gabi Kent for providing footage and stills.

Video 3: William on community: © The Open University

Video 4: William’s explanation of a mind map: © The Open University with thanks ACT Initiative Home - Action for Community Transformation (

Video 5: William’s Mind map drawing © The Open University with thanks to ACT Initiative Home - Action for Community Transformation (

Every effort has been made to contact copyright owners. If any have been inadvertently overlooked, the publishers will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements at the first opportunity.

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