Northern Ireland news

Outreach workers praised for efforts at Springfield Road interface

Outreach workers from St Peter's Immaculata Youth Centre in the Divis area of the Falls Road have been praised for the work they have been doing at the scene of unrest on the Springfield Road as they work to get young people away from the interface. Picture by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

OUTREACH workers from a youth centre on the Falls Road have been present at the scene of the violent unrest on the Springfield Road every night this week.

However, such work is nothing new for the staff members from St Peter's Immaculata Youth Centre, who are qualified youth work practitioners, as they carry out such work every night in the Divis area, engaging with young people who may be involved in so-called `self-harming behaviour'.

Dressed in their distinctive red coats, the team have this week be seen in the thick of it on the Springfield Road near Lanark Way, making every effort to draw young people away from the violent scenes.

On Wednesday night, the outreach workers brought two male teenage bystanders to safety when they were injured during rioting.

They took both to hospital where it was found one of the young men had suffered a fractured skull.

They have also confiscated petrol bombs from rioters and on one occasion destroyed a box of petrol bombs they came across.

The team have also been contacting parents of youths at the scene and asking them to come and take them home.

Youth and community workers on the ground on the Springfield Road and Lanark Way trying to prevent trouble at the interface. Picture by Mal McCann.

Stephen Hughes, senior youth worker at St Peter's Immaculata Youth Centre, said he is very proud of the work the team are doing.

"They are putting themselves at risk regularly," he said.

"Their job is to make sure young people stay safe, talking to them, pushing them back, taking stuff off them.

"They challenge their thinking and challenge their attitude and challenge their behaviour".

Mr Hughes said the parents contacted about their children have been "very thankful".

"They are a great bunch of staff and they are among the best in the country," he said.

"I am really proud of the work they do and they are effective".

Youth and community workers on the ground on the Springfield Road and Lanark Way trying to prevent trouble at the interface. Picture by Mal McCann.

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