TBUC Camps news stories

The selection of short articles below provides details on the work groups have delivered in 2020/21.

T:BUC Camps continue to change "attitudes" during pandemic

During 2020/21, Hospital Road Youth Club in Omagh successfully delivered the T:BUC Camp project, ‘My Effort and Attitude Determine Everything’.

The project was made up of 20 boys and girls aged 11-13yrs, of all abilities and from a range of different backgrounds.

Most of the young people had never taken part in a good relations project before.

Due to the ongoing pandemic and in adherence to social distancing guidelines, the group was required to adapt the project to maintain the safety of both participants and staff.

Staff rose to the challenge to maintain delivery by splitting the group into two bubbles of ten with each bubble having a permanent leader throughout the programme.

Each leader delivered a programme covering issues such as:

  • Breaking down barriers
  • Identity and perception
  • Improve teambuilding and relationships
  • Diversity
  • Values and attitudes
  • Exploring assumptions
  • Prejudice and stereotyping
  • Cultural expressions

This involved mainly interacting visual activities and discussion which were broken up with games relating to the topic from each workshop.

As a result of the ‘My Effort and Attitude Determine Everything’ programme participants:

  • Made new friends
  • Developed a better understanding of religions and cultures
  • Strengthened their communication and leadership skills
  • Gained more self confidence
  • Had a safe space to express their thoughts
  • Enjoyed being part of a team
  • Had a lot of fun

Below is a quote from one of the young people on the programme and a parent of one of the participants.


“It was scary at the start because I didn’t know anyone, but they were really nice, and it doesn’t matter what religion you are if your nice to me, I will be nice to you.”

Parent of a participant

“The TBUC Camp has been brilliant for my daughter, she suffers from social anxiety and with her autism and ADHD she can be challenging at times and her behaviour had got worst during lockdown. I was nervous about how she would cope but when she came home after each day telling us all the new things she had learnt and the friends she had made, it was a big relief.

"The leaders and other young people were fantastic with her and so patient with helping her. I would highly recommend TBUC camps to other parents.”

Camp Outcomes

Before T:BUC Camps:

  • only 2.5% of participants at Hospital Road Youth Club felt positive/very positive towards people from a different religious background.
  • on completion, 85% of participants now felt positive/very positive towards people from different religious backgrounds.

Following Hospital Road Youth Club’s T:BUC Camps Project:

  • 100% of participants at Hospital Road Youth Club felt more knowledgeable about other cultural traditions and backgrounds
  • 90% of participants felt much more open to making new friends from different religious backgrounds

T:BUC Camps 2020/21 - maintaining delivery during a pandemic

Delivery of T:BUC Camps in 2020/21, during a global pandemic, proved challenging for many groups.

TEO's Charlene Sharkey
TEO's Charlene Sharkey

Especially with the aim of Camps being to bring young people (aged 11 to 19) together to build positive relationships across what have become divided parts of our community.

T:BUC Camps is about challenging historic positions, encouraging debate and discussion, and providing a way for young people to get to know each other, try new experiences, have fun and help to build longer term relationships.

Groups that delivered T:BUC Camps during 2020/21 were required to react quickly to the ever changing social distancing guidelines whilst thinking outside the box to ensure delivery continued safely for the many young participants.  

As a result, 75 groups successfully delivered T:BUC Camps in 2020/21 with group leaders rising to the challenge to ensure each of their camps were innovative, creative and fun for all participants.

The Education Authority (EA) is our delivery partner for the T:BUC Camps Programme and the advice and guidance that EA provided to groups in such difficult times was exemplary and greatly appreciated by myself and colleagues.

As part of my role in TEO’s Good Relations (GR), Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (FICT) and T:BUC Camps Branch, I visit and observe the delivery of various Camps.

Normally the observation visits would take place in person, however, 2020/21 was a year like no other with visits having to happen remotely online.

One online visit I observed was to a Camp being delivered by the EA in Newry, Mourne and Down.

On this occasion the session took the format of a Comedy Night and was compered by Andrew Ryan – a stand-up comedian from County Cork.

Andrew Ryan - Comedian

“Really enjoyed hosting the EANI Youth Service event for the young people in Newry, Mourne and Down, it was great fun and I’m delighted that they felt they got loads out of it and the feedback has been so positive.”

Other comedy actors that logged on to speak to the young people included Jamie Lee O’Donnell (Michelle from Derry Girls) and Shane Casey (Billy from The Young Offenders). 

Both Jamie Lee and Shane were open and honest with participants, talking about their backgrounds, how they got involved in acting/comedy, how they deal with rejection as well as taking time to answer any questions the young people had – right down to hair care routines!!

The comedy night was a great success with, at one stage, 130 young people logged on to listen as well as many actively engaging with Andrew, Jamie-Lee and Shane.

Shane Casey-Actor (Young offenders, AKA Billy Murphy)

“I was quite nervous about the talk but being able to connect with the young people on the T:BUC programme and share my story will hopefully inspire the young people to take their own path in life and pursue their own ambitions.” 

Jamie-Lee O’Donnell - Actor (Derry Girls – AKA Michelle)

“What a wonderful zoom call  to be a part of and hopefully in the future I can see some of these faces again in an acting role” 

As much as I have enjoyed being able to visit groups on an online platform from the comfort of my own home (fire lit and slippers on), I am really looking forward to being able to get out and about to visit groups on the 2021/22 Programmes, to actually meet leaders and young people in person and have a bit of craic.

Charlene Sharkey
GR, FICT and T:BUC Camps

T:BUC Camps 2020/21 - maintaining delivery during the pandemic part 2

This is the second of three articles from GR, FICT and T:BUC Camps Branch on how their roles and duties have had to change as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As mentioned in my previous article, the delivery of T:BUC Camps in 2020/21 during a global pandemic has proved very challenging with groups having to react quickly to the ever changing guidelines to ensure delivery continued safely.

Group leaders were inspirational in this challenge by being innovative and creative to maintain delivery of T:BUC Camps and for this, both TEO and our delivery partner the Education Authority (EA) are ever so thankful.

As many Camps moved to online delivery, it was not possible for me to visit in person so instead I visited ‘virtually’ from the comfort of my living room and slippers.

In my previous article, I wrote about attending an online ‘Comedy Night’, this time I observed a different theme – ‘Sports Night – Football and Gaelic’.

The evening was hosted by Newry and Mourne Youth Service with 75 young people logging in from South Armagh T:BUC Group, Ballynahinch and Newry T:BUC, and Downpatrick and Kilkeel T:BUC.

In advance of the evening participants had been provided with goodie bags containing a football, gaelic ball, hurley stick and hockey stick.

I was secretly relieved this visit was taking place remotely and not in person as I am very accident prone therefore safe and free from being roped in to participate.

The first part focussed on football with the guest speaker being Thomas McStravick, a Sports Development Coach with Leeds United FC. The second half of the evening covered Gaelic with guest speaker Markus Brennan, a former goalkeeper for Meath GAA.

Thomas McStravick

“Thanks to Ruth for the opportunity to speak to the T:BUC Group and share my journey. I was impressed by the numbers of young people involved and the enthusiasm of the leaders. The leaders are clearly very passionate about helping the young people involved. The programme is a great opportunity to use sport to bring people together and promote good relations."

Both speakers spoke openly about their childhood, personal lives and the paths they took. They covered a wide range of topics such as dealing with depression through to never being too late to go back to learning in order to get where you want in life.

Each then took time to answer the many questions posed by the young people and did so in an open and honest way.

Markus Brennan

 "I really enjoyed the Zoom Q&A on Thursday night. It was great to be able to show the group how important GAA has been on my life and how it is about more than just playing sport. The organisation of the event was excellent with each of the young people receiving a ball beforehand so they could practice the skills of the game, which also made it more interactive during the call.  

"A huge thanks goes to Ruth on making it a relaxed, easy going atmosphere and its obvious the leaders have built up a great rapport with the young people they work with."

At the end of each session, the speakers provided a brief description about their respective sport before the fun commenced….training time!

Participants were encouraged to get their gaelic ball/football from their goodie bags and learn some training moves/skills.

This included moves such as shuffles, sole tops, solo the ball and strike it, to name but a few. There were prizes for the best participants which will be delivered to their homes at a later date.

It was heart-warming to see participants and leaders enjoying themselves and having fun during the various training exercises - albeit with everyone logging in remotely.

It has been great to observe T:BUC Camps being delivered remotely through one of the most challenging times for everyone.

However, I’m really looking forward to visiting groups in person in the not so distant future!!

Note to self – slippers is not appropriate footwear.

Charlene Sharkey
GR, FICT and T:BUC Camps

T:BUC Camps 2020/21 - maintaining delivery during the pandemic part 3

You may have read previous articles written by my colleague, Charlene Sharkey, about online comedy and sports nights she attended which had been delivered by the Education Authority (EA) in Newry, Mourne and Down as part of their T:BUC Camps Programme. 

These were the first two in a series of three online events delivered by this group and Richard Cushnie, Director of Good Relations and T:BUC Division, and I had the privilege of being invited to their third event: an online sports night involving Ulster Rugby and Ulster Hockey. 

Like me, you may wonder how a sports night could happen when all the young people were sitting at home watching by Zoom! This was possible thanks to the commitment, enthusiasm and creativity shown by the organisers. 

Before the event, every young person was provided with a goodie bag which included a rugby ball, hockey stick and ball

The evening started with an engaging talk to over 40 young people by Jennifer and Daniel who are Community Sports Development Officers with Ulster Rugby. 

They talked about their Game of Three Halves programme - a joint initiative between Ulster Rugby, GAA and Irish Football Association to bring together young people of all backgrounds to share their love for sport.

They then showed a virtual tour of the Kingspan Stadium..

Kyle McCall, an Ulster Rugby player with 63 caps, then played a Skill School video and invited all the young people to pick up the rugby ball and try a few simple skills. 

The young people really enjoyed getting involved and thankfully no windows were broken!  Kyle then took part in a very informative and interactive Q&A session. 

One of the questions he was asked was did he have any advice to his 15 year old self.  Kyle said it would be to enjoy and appreciate the moment you are in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the evening as I am a big rugby fan and can often be found at the side of a rugby pitch on a Saturday afternoon watching my son play for his local side.

It was then the turn of Ulster Hockey to take to the screen. Conor Savage, a development officer for Ulster Hockey and a former North Down player, explained the basic rules of hockey to the group.

Conor told everyone how they could get involved in playing hockey if they wanted to and a video was played showing some of the top teams in action. 

It was then time for the young people to pick up the hockey sticks and balls! 

As a former hockey player myself (yes, it was a long time ago!!), I thought this could be a recipe for disaster as hockey balls are hard and I had many bruises in the past to prove it! 

But thankfully everyone did really well, even those who had never had a hockey stick in their hands before, and no teeth were lost!

The evening ended with a lovely gesture from both Ulster Hockey and Ulster Rugby in promising to provide a coaching session to the young people when Covid-19 restrictions permitted. 

It was a really fun and engaging evening, providing the young people with a shared learning experience which provides a pathway to further engagement between the camp participants when regulations permit.

TEO’s Richard Cushnie, Director of Good Relations and T:BUC Division, said:

“This was another great example of how T:BUC Camps, our partners in EA, and supporters like Ulster Hockey and Ulster Rugby have responded to the challenges posed by Covid with innovative and energised solutions.

“I am aware that the IFA and GAA have also worked with this group, and they too have offered to provide coaching sessions to the Camp’s participants when it is possible to do so.

“We all know the power of sport in promoting a healthy and positive mindset, and I am delighted that TEO and our partners have been able to support young people to avail of these sporting opportunities.”

Mandy Jones
GR, FICT and T:BUC Camps

How Scotch Street YCC, in partnership with Youthlink NI, delivered their T:BUC Camp 2020-21 during a pandemic

Andrew Topley, Leader in Charge at Scotch Street Youth and Community Centre (SSYCC) in Portadown, shares his experience of delivering a T:BUC Camp during the pandemic.

Our T:BUC Group consisted of 18 young people (13 girls and 5 boys) aged between 12-17yrs and four different nationalities.

We initially applied for funding but were unsuccessful so were absolutely delighted when Youthlink NI asked us to partner with them.

We knew this opportunity, even online, to run a T:BUC Project during a pandemic was too good to turn down as I knew the young people would benefit by meeting new people, learning new things and having some structure in their daily lives.

Throughout delivery we experienced many challenges as we were unable to deliver in the normal face to face manner which included no fun trips or residentials.

Myself and my team therefore spent a lot of time designing, planning, and adapting the programme to make it interesting and suitable for online delivery.

We knew we would have to work hard to ensure participants full attendance each week but thankfully we had a dedicated group of young people who attended each session without fail!

Before each online session the participants were delivered a meal to their homes which provided them with an opportunity to eat together (albeit virtually) as a group before we started our work.

We found this worked extremely well, creating a comfortable and positive atmosphere.

Content covered during the programme included:

  • Introduction & Teambuilding
  • Personal Identity
  • Understanding Preconceptions & Stereotypes
  • Prejudice & Discrimination
  • Sports Sessions
  • Baking Workshop
  • Quiz Night
  • Our Own Diversity
  • Flags & Symbols
  • Conflict Transformation
  • Personal Reflection

Throughout our project it was apparent there were certain young people who seemed to naturally take on and develop a leadership role within the group.

This was great to see as it meant when we went into the virtual breakout rooms, the work was truly youth led.

The respect shown by everyone involved, especially when it came to listening to each other’s opinions and being quiet while someone else spoke, was great to witness.

As part of our project we also hosted an online assessment evening.

Comments from the young people on their experiences of T:BUC Camps included:

“I have really enjoyed attending each week as it seems like we are all family now.”

“I have met new friends and they all seem to like me.”

“It really helped me realise that we have so much in common with people from different religious backgrounds and we are really quite similar.”

As a leadership team we feel that our T:BUC Project was a great success.

The participants involved were challenged by the work and developed a better understanding of good relations issues within their area, and gave positive ways to work towards a shared future.

It was further evident the young people really enjoyed their virtual T:BUC Camp with full attendance and participation each week.  

Taking the time to eat and socialise together before each session seemed to allow the young people to relax and for their comfort levels to grow which led to some very honest feedback.

As we now have all the young people from this T:BUC Camps registered as members of SSYCC, we will have further opportunity to build on the successes of this project by providing further programmes and provision to assist their growth and development.

We are really looking forward to doing more T:BUC Projects in the near future.

Andrew Topley
Leader in Charge
Scotch Street Youth & Community Centre

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