Verbal policing project launch today

Students from Derry have produced an innovative series of short films for a project led by the Verbal Arts Centre supported by the Community Relations Council, which will be made available to schools throughout Northern Ireland to promote young people’s voices on civil society and policing.

Picture for blog story Verbal policing project launch today

The ‘VOX PIX’ media project, grant-aided by the Community Relations Council, enables young people aged 16+ to explore attitudes to civil society and policing in post-conflict communities from the perspectives of their own experiences and that of their respective communities.

Eight St Mary’s College students studying GCSE Learning for Life and Work took part in the project which will be showcased at a special launch event in the Verbal Arts Centre on Friday, February 5.

The local students filmed face-to-face interviews with speakers including PSNI Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan, Derry District Area Commander; Catherine Pollock, Vice Chair Partnership Committee on Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSP); Roger McCallum, RUC George Cross Trustee and former PSNI District Commander; and Charmain Jones, Community Development Officer for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration, Rural Community Network.

Dr Mhairi Sutherland, Community Engagement Facilitator at the Verbal Arts Centre, who co-ordinated the VOX PIX project, paid tribute to the St Mary’s students who participated in seven weekly after school sessions which began last September, accompanied by their teacher Yvonne Connolly, Head of Learning for Life and Work.

Dr Sutherland explained: “The students have been involved in a Verbal Arts Centre Reading Room, research into the relationships between the PSNI and young people - in both urban and rural contexts - and the potential roles young people can play in relation to the PSCP boards and within their own communities.

“The participants gained new skills through a hands-on and shared approach to the research, interviewing, audio recording and editing. The resulting output will be a series of short animated audio video films produced by the young people and disseminated by the Verbal Arts Centre to almost one hundred post-primary schools throughout Northern Ireland.

“The young people have been instrumental in bringing their peers/communities together through the Shared Launch Event on February 5 which will be a wonderful showcase for the project, and will celebrate their achievements, thank all the contributors and view the short films which have been made as a result.”

Commenting on the VOX PIX project, Deirdre Mac Bride of the Community Relations Council, said: "The Community Relations Council is delighted to be able to support VOX PIX. We granted aided the project because it gave young people the opportunity to explore and comment on issues of policing and civil society from their point of view. The films will then form part of an educational resource supporting the teaching of controversial issues in schools."

Students and staff from secondary schools in the city will attend the launch which is being addressed by guest speakers including Marie Lindsay, Principal of St Mary’s College; Inspector Jonny Hunter from the PSNI’s Cityside Neighbourhood Team; Deirdre MacBride, Cultural Diversity Programme Director, Community Relations Council and Noel McKenna, Former Mayor of Derry City Council and Community Relations Council Board Member.

Speaking ahead of today's launch, Marie Lindsay said: “At St Mary’s College we encourage our pupils to use their voice and speak up about things that are important to them. With the support of both Dr Mhairi Sutherland at the Verbal Arts Centre and their teacher Ms Connolly, these young people had the opportunity to speak directly to those involved in policing about what matters to them. As these can be sensitive and difficult conversations I would like to congratulate all involved and I look forward to seeing the films they have produced.”


For further information or to arrange media interviews, please contact the Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within, Derry~Londonderry, BT48 6PU.

Tel. 02871 266946.

Notes to Editors

Verbal Arts Centre

Since first established in 1992 Verbal’s mission has been and remains the promotion of the written and spoken word, the celebration of commonality and diversity and the development of knowledge, understanding and excellence in the creation, performance and critical practice together with research, publication and the provision of information. Our work is divided into 5 programme areas: Digital Storytelling, Publishing, Reader Development, Festival & Events, Oral History & Archive.

Community Relations Council

The Community Relations Council was formed in January 1990 as an independent company and registered charity. It originated in 1986 as a proposal of a research report commissioned by the NI Standing Advisory Committee on Human Rights.  The Community Relations Council was set up to promote better community relations between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and, equally, to promote recognition of cultural diversity.

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