Celebrating ‘Home’ in Knock Knock book by Ballymena school kids

Press Release - 19th October 2022

Ballymena pupils from 12 local primary schools have penned their reflections and musings on the concept of ‘Home’, for a new book that celebrates diversity and culture launched this week.

Knock Knock brings together the work from school children, who worked with Poet and Author Nandi Jola to create stories, poems and illustrations about what home and place means to them.

The schools involved are Ballykeel Primary School, Broughshane Primary School, Carniny Primary School, Gracehill Primary School, Kells & Connor Primary School, St Colmcille’s Primary School, Braidside Integrated Primary School, Buick Memorial Primary School, Dunclug Primary School, Castle Tower School, Harryville Primary School, and St Paul’s, Ahoghill Primary School.

Pupils from the schools gathered at Stormont to launch the book with local MLAs Jim Allister, Paul Frew, and Cara Hunter.

The initiative was supported by Radius Housing, as part of their community building work for a new housing development, they are constructing at the St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena. The St Patrick’s project will be a shared housing scheme, and in the lead up to construction Radius has been working with the local community and have organised an Advisory Group made up of local community leaders and organisations.

The aim of the ‘Knock Knock’ book was to give a platform to young people so they could give voice to the issues that are important to them. The schools across Ballymena have representation from many different nations across the globe, which reflect the diversity in the area. ‘Knock Knock’ celebrates this diversity and how ‘Home’ can mean different things to different people, while maintaining a commonality.

Nandi Jola led a creative learning programme with the schools to explore the theme of Home, and develop the stories, poems and illustrations. The books will be shared with schools to help encourage discussions on what home means and the positive impact of diversity and community relationships.

The ‘Knock Knock’ Schools project is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. Radius works in partnership with the local Advisory Group stakeholders, and with residents to develop each scheme’s Good Relations Plan. Radius currently has 11 shared housing developments across Northern Ireland, and is developing a new £26m, 135-home project at the former St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena.

Speaking at the launch, Lisa Mooney, Communities Officer from Radius Housing said “Knock Knock is a wonderful piece of work by the children, and it captures their voices on the theme of Home, as well as friendship and community. It’s a beautiful example of our cultural diversity. Together with Nandi, the children have created an exciting and colorful book, awash with amazing poems, stories, and art. It will be widely shared across Ballymena in the schools, our sheltered schemes, public spaces and with our tenants at St Patrick’s Barracks site when they arrive.”

David Shepherd, Area Housing Manager for Ballymena added “This is another great project to have come from the Good Relations Plan for St Patrick’s site, and it brings together so many positive messages from young people in the area. We look forward to working more with the local community in the coming months as the development progresses and we get ready to welcome new tenants to the area.”

One of the teachers present at Parliament Buildings said the event was “very well organised, informative, enriching, friendly and an excelled shared education and community project.”

At the launch one student commented, “I think this event was an amazing experience to have. I would like to help people move into houses in the future.” Another told us “It was great to actually take part in making a book.”

The pupils participating in the day took time to write postcards to welcome the new tenants who will move into the St Patrick’s Barracks Site, one pupil wrote, “Hello, I hope this wonderful new home can be a way to help you smile. I also hope it brings you and everyone coming close together, it’ll hopefully give you a wonderful life.”

For more information or to obtain a copy of the book please email lisa.mooney@radiushousing.org