The Belfast 2 Blanco project was created in 2013 after an international visit to South Africa by Alan Waite & Thomas Turley. They had participated in a project based in Blanco, George with a group of young people from both Protestant & Catholic communities of North Belfast. On their return Thomas & Alan formed the Belfast 2 Blanco project that would see young people from Ardoyne & Greater Shankill avail of a lifetime opportunity to engage in a programme that would provide a platform to new learning.
Thomas says, "It was felt that we could develop a project that would continue to meet the needs of young people and help broaden their horizons. Through the programme each participant will develop new relationships, leadership skills, self independence and achievement of self set goals, all which can be be brought back into their communities to make a positive impact."
Belfast 2 Blanco project incorporated many different aspects to the programme from previous initial first visit that Thomas & Alan had embarked . New partnerships where formed which brought new and valuable experiences including Cape Town where the participants get an in-depth look at the South African apartheid and how this impacted immensely on the communities. Gang culture is also very rife in the inner city townships of Cape Town , the participants can engage with ex members & parents groups that have been negatively impacted by the influence of this issue.
The B2B programme in Blanco has progressed also to include many different themes which support the enhancement of participants learning through hands on real life engagement. Initiatives such as food drop to the most sick & vulnerable people in the community, building projects, placements within local children’s crèches, design and implementation of large scale community events, inter generational work in old age care homes, youth engagement projects and cultural learnings.
Alan says, "This programme truly creates a solid foundation for our participants to educate themselves hands on in a totally unique environment that allows an abundance of self learning. The Key component is the de-brief sessions where participants gather in the evening to reflect on that days events and draw from one and other their learnings. Anyone can go to South Africa and have an amazing time but if the programme designed with education and learning at the heart then it becomes a Life changing journey."
Belfast 2 Blanco would personally like to thank all who have contributed to our project over the years and also for the ongoing support .The participants , parents, staff, funders and our political representatives who continue to champion this project.
Alan Waite & Thomas Turley