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Justice Champions a shining example to us all – Ford

A teenage youth group attempting to make life better for other teenagers has been crowned one of Northern Ireland's Justice Championsí.
Thursday, 13 December 2012

We owe our gratitude, not just to the Justice Champions, but to everyone who plays a part in making our communities safer, they are a shining example to us all

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

Justice Minister David Ford presented the Rathenraw Youth Scheme with their award at the ‘Justice in the Community Awards’ ceremony at Parliament Buildings last night in recognition of their community engagement initiatives with young people.

Also named ‘Justice Champions’ were; Northern Ireland Alternatives, in recognition of their work at the front line dealing with the effects of crime and anti-social behaviour, and Joanne Farrell, for her courage and inspiration in turning her life around to become a mentor for female offenders as they attempt to build a better life.

David Ford said: "The Justice in the Community Awards are about celebrating the personal efforts of some of the most remarkable people in our communities who share in the vision to make Northern Ireland a more fair, just and safer society to live in."

"These people, many of whom are volunteers, work tirelessly, often going the extra mile to help others because they care about their communities and want to make things better."

"We owe our gratitude, not just to the Justice Champions, but to everyone who plays a part in making our communities safer, they are a shining example to us all."

The awards attracted some 40 nominations and as well as the three Justice Champions, six highly commended awards were also presented.

Notes to editors

1. Justice Minister David Ford launched the 2012 ‘Justice in the Community’ Awards on 16 July. Over 40 nominations were received and were considered by an independent judging panel consisting of Dr Avila Kilmurray, Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, Dr Duncan Morrow, lecturer in the School of Criminology at the University of Ulster, Pauline McCabe, Prisoner Ombudsman and Gareth Johnston from the Department of Justice.

2. The 3 ‘Justice Champions’ are:

  • Rathenraw Youth Scheme
  • Northern Ireland Alternatives
  • Joanne Farrell

They each received a commemorative crystal trophy and an award to the value of £500 for equipment or services to benefit their local community.

3. ‘Highly commended’ nominations

  • Families Bereaved Through Car Crime
  • Holy Trinity Youth Centre
  • STRIDE
  • Vicky McLaughlin
  • Bernadette Herald
  • Sergeant Laurie Nicholson

4. Rathenraw Youth Scheme is a group of 13-17 year olds who are woking towards making their life better by understanding the issues that young people can wrongly get involved in. The group are involved in raising their self awareness of anti-social issues that affect their community, such as drugs and alcohol, and are actively involved in supporting their community, working with children with disabilities and older people. They work with neighbouring estates through drama and other initiatives to promote being better citizens and setting good examples to others.

5. Northern Ireland Alternatives is a community based restorative justice organisation that deals with the debilitating effects of crime and anti-social behaviour. Alternatives approach is based on healing fractured relationships that cause harm and hurt in community life through collaborative working both with local communities and a range of statutory agencies including the police, Probation Youth Justice Agency, the Housing Executive and Belfast City Council.

6. Joanne Farrell is an inspiration to women offenders who want to turn their life around. Four years ago her life was on a downward spiral and she ended up in the criminal justice system. Now Joanne is voluntarily involved in providing support services to other female offenders, both inside and outside of prison, mentoring and encouraging those women to make new life choices.

7. Families Bereaved Through Car Crime have made tremendous efforts to create safer communities and create awareness not just around car crime and joyriding but in tackling anti-social behaviour and attitudes. They have been instrumental in the establishment of the PSNI Auto Crime Team and have demonstrated tremendous courage having endured threats of violence and damage to their homes in defending their campaign.

8. Over the last year Holy Trinity Youth Centre has been working to improve community safety which has involved sustained and productive contact with the local Community Policing Team. They run a late night weekend project which offers young people a place to meet, socialise, learn and develop in a safe and welcoming environment at key times when they young people are most at risk of becoming involved in or being victims of anti-social and anti-community behaviours.

9. STRIDE is a partnership project bed by Ballymoney Community Safety Partnership working in collaboration with the Community Safety Partnerships of Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle in conjunction with the Youth Justice Agency, the PSNI and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. STRIDE is a bold approach to addressing anti-social behaviour and low level criminal activity at grass-roots level.

10. Vicky McLaughlin has worked with offenders and their families for the past 27 years. She is renowned for her non-judgemental approach and has a capacity to forge relationships with often damaged and difficult individuals.

11. Bernadette Herald is a key member of the Youth Justice Agency team in Lisburn and West Belfast undertaking driving duties for the organisation transporting young people and parents to and from appointments and transporting parents to visit their sons or daughters in custody. Her contributions have also added to the positive experiences of parents.

12. Sergeant Laurie Nicholson has 17 years service in the police and has been attached to the Public Protection Unit in Omagh for the past five years. Over the last two years a large proportion of his time, both on and off duty, has been dedicated to dealing with the Donagh community in Fermanagh in respect of the sexual abuse of children committed over many years by the McDermott brothers.

13. Media enquires should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.