Right, so my name's Chantelle. I’m twenty-one. Born and raised in the Short Strand my whole life and went to school in West Belfast, which is a predominantly` Republican area too. So I've always been around Nationalism, Republicanism all my life. Got an interest in politics when I started doing an A-Level at St. Louise's. Took a big interest in politics around that time. Got involved in a lot. Cross community work and a lot of young youth politics work. Joined Youth in Government when I was seventeen. Done that for two years, then I took it for a year being a leader. Got the opportunity to travel down the Dáil and Dublin. Got to go to London. Got to do all sorts and that really opened my eyes to a lot of problems that were going on with young people in our area in Belfast, Northern Ireland particularly.
I was just always outside growing up. Never really inside. It wasn’t really the way kids are today. Just always out there playing with anything we can find. We used to find old bits of wood and all and build huts out in the alleyways and we used to have competitions to see who had the better hut. We used to go wreck each others, like a turf war, we used to do that. I remember when they were filming in Bryson Street - not sure what film it was - and they asked me and my cousin to be in it in the background, throwing like rubber bricks. And I was like, why am I supposed to throw bricks like? Because I was only in primary school. And that's when I first realised the trouble, obviously, in these parts. So we were in the background of - I can't remember what film it was - throwing bricks at Bryson Street peace wall, so that was funny. And I just always remember around summer time, that's when you noticed a lot of tension. You always heard the bands, my dad used to always go out and watch them. And I'd be like nah. But everyone used to go and watch, just before the big barriers put up. We used to go around watch the Orangemen marching then. And because our house is right beside the Ravenhill Road, that's when they all come across the roads. And then you would always know that night there would be trouble around Bryson Street, because that chapel. It was just guaranteed.
I think it got worse after the flag situation. I remember those days of rioting at St. Matthews. I must have been about second or third year and me and my cousin were running about and it was when the rioting was really bad. I think there were shots and all fired at St. Matthews. The flag protest. I think from then it's got worse because from that point on when they were marching by they would put them big walls up so we couldn't see out. And I think that's very inhumane. It makes you feel like animals. It made me and made all of us feel like animals. We're caged in. Nobody can drive in and out just so them'uns can march by. They love looking in at us and us not being able to see them. So they get a satisfaction out of that. So that makes people around here even more harder to be cross-community.
My mom and dad is a good example of the housing situation. Three kids in the two bedroom house. All in one bedroom. It's not fair. Everyone says it's people coming in stealing the houses and all. It's not like that. It's nothing to do with outsiders. There's just no housing being built. Nothing being invested. The houses are falling down. The Housing Executive doesn’t do nothing. There's no money in housing. We're crying out for housing. That's why we're looking to get the bus depot took away so we can build more houses.
Majority of ones my age are moving out of the area but we need people to stay. I think we need people to stay. And it's just ones my age can't be bothered with everything that's going on. Completely different mindset. Very little people my age round here have interest in politics. I can't think of anyone else my age now that is doing what I'm doing. Around here I think probably the one studying politics around here at university.
Fifteen year old wee lads running about the street every night off their faces just cause they have nothing else to do. But if you had something there for them to do to keep them off the streets and occupied even like a wee getting into work programs or something like courses to get them into jobs. But it's not here. There's things outside the Strand they could go to like West Belfast and all. But they'll probably not get in because they're not from that area. So we need stuff here to keep kids off the streets and to get them into jobs. To keep them off drugs. Crime rates will go down here. The cops will stop having a high presence here. People will stop feeling intimidated. Would just have a complete effect across the board.
100% of every donation goes directly to programming. We deeply appreciate your support!