The Greater Shantallow Area Partnership, was formed following a public meeting in October 1995 in St Brigid’s College facilitated by Joe Martin (a local resident and school principal of Steelstown Primary School) who became a founding board member of GSAP and subsequent chairperson of GSAP during the period 2005-2008. GSAP was set up as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status with a voluntary 20-member management board chaired by Joe Mc Laughlin (then Chief Executive of Northside Development Trust.

GSAP core purpose as stated in our governing document is as follows:

To promote the benefit of the inhabitants of the Greater Shantallow Area without distinction of sex, race or political, religious or other opinions by advancing education, relieving poverty, preserving health and providing facilities in the interest of social welfare for recreation and leisure time occupation with the objects of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants.

In late 1995, GSAP was able to obtain in kind office space within the local NIHE District 3 offices at Collon Lane from the NIHE Housing Manager at the time (Seamus Kelly who was also a founding member of the GSAP board) and secured our first funding package from the DOE (Londonderry Development Office) through the assistance of Mr. John Tourney a strong advocate for the development of local partnerships across the city. This funding enabled GSAP to commission the Housing Research Centre at Magee to carry out a community consultation and audit of the needs in the Greater Shantallow Area which later resulted in a detailed report published by GSAP in August 1996 entitled Building Successful Communities which clearly identified the core needs, assets, resources and aspirations of our residents and communities within the area. In addition, further financial assistance from LDO, CFNI (formerly NIVT) and Council enabled GSAP to appoint a full time Project Manager (Carol Mc Keever) in late 1996 and a year later saw the appointment of Darren Kirby as PM in May 1997 and a move to new office accommodation at St Brigid’s Parish Centre in Carnhill. This was then followed by a move to Northside Village Centre in 2002 under GSAP chairperson Peter Mc Donald, an expansion of our premises at Northside in Nov 2007 under GSAP chairperson Joe Martin and then again a further expansion of our premises in 2012 under our current chairperson Peter Mc Donald.

In those first 10 years GSAP programme delivery included a major Community Capacity & technical assistance Building Programme (1999) (funded and supported by the Local Strategy Partnership) to support the C&V sector, our out of schools programmes with 5 local schools (funded by the New Opportunities Fund), our health improvement initiatives such as Health first (in partnership with the WHSCT, funded by NOF), wider horizons youth development programmes (funded by IFI / DEL & FAS), community drug and alcohol awareness project (funded by the WHSCT and later Pilgrim Trust), community safety projects funded through NIO, our volunteer programme funded through the VCU/DSD and employability programmes such as Work track (funded by DEL and lead by Maydown Ebrington).

In 2005, the NR strategy was launched and over the next two years a series of public meetings and planning meetings, many of which were facilitated by GSAP chairperson at the time Joe Martin were held across the area. This culminated, in GSAP taking on the secretariat role for the new Outer North NR Partnership and GSAP PM ‘Darren’ moving over to Strategy Manager of the ONNRP and ‘Ciara Ferguson’ taking on the role of Project Manager of GSAP in October 2007.

From that period onwards GSAP and ONNRP staff and members played a pivotal role in helping to ensure the area could benefit from ongoing and significant investment to deliver much needed physical, community, social and economic renewal projects and services. We worked hard to help bring a greater focus and importance on cross sectoral collaborative working and from 2008, GSAP not only helped develop but also took the lead on a number of significant cross-sectoral programmes in the area, such as the Learner Access & Engagement Programme (in partnership with the NWRC and no of outreach community centres in the area), the Extended Schools Cluster Initiative (in partnership with 17 local schools and funded by the WELB), Employment Support Programmes (such as Kickstart, Derry2020 and currently the Skills2020 Project), Active Citizenship (funded by Derry City Council), the Shantallow Youth Leadership Programme (Funded by Co-operation Ireland) and the Family Support Hub (funded by DSD / WHSCT/WELB).

Also, in late 2008, GSAP became actively engaged in the development of the new regeneration plan for the city which resulted in GSAP Manager in June 2009 being seconded to and working closely with ILEX and playing a key role in the delivery of the community engagement (Citi scope) element of the One plan. From 2010, we continued to work with a host of individuals and organisations both locally and city wide to develop innovative solutions to problems faced by residents in the community and these included Early Intervention Programmes (such as Talking to our Babies, ASPIRE NI, and FAST), in partnership with agencies such as the WHSCT, St. Brigid’s College, and Save the Children etc., the GS affordable loan pilot project (In partnership with organisations such as Apex Housing, Consumer Council NI and Credit Union) and the Shantallow Foodbank (in partnership with our 4 local churches led by the Churches Trust).

A noteworthy milestone during our more recent times was the establishment in April 2011 of GSAP’s social research trading subsidiary which secured contracts such as the 3 years Peace Bridge Survey, the Jazz Festival Survey, the 2012 Citiscope survey and once again GSAP partnered with Ilex and the Ulster University to complete the new citizen survey across the new DC&SDC area with the assistance of 52 residents living across the District. Also worth a mention in 2012, GSAP, similar to our early days with the Wider Horizon programme- began to look beyond the city and region and was successful in securing investment under the European Grundtvig programme which enabled over 50 members of the community to take part in the Questing Programme visiting our partners in Poland, Italy and Czech Republic and hosting participants from all three countries in the city in Oct 2014.

Also a remarkable period in our community and the city at this time was City of Culture 2013. Leading up to 2013 our community proactively, came together, mapped our arts and cultural assets, assessed our needs and carried out a comprehensive consultation process which lead to the development of a new 5 year Arts and Cultural Strategy published and launched through funding from the Culture Company. This led to us securing substantial investment from DCAL and Council to support the role out 43 local arts and culture projects run by 33 organisations in the Greater Shantallow Area in 2013.

In more recent years in 2015/16, GSAP in partnership with our local stakeholders has successfully delivered on a range of new and additional community led programmes such as the Foyle Community Works Programme (in partnership with the 4 NRPs, Ilex, Council, DSD, OFMDFM, DEL) offering 2 year work placements for 100 long term unemployed, our new community led digital fabrication project ‘FabSocial’ in partnership with the Nerve Centre and our Local Digital Archiving Project, capital investment projects and events throughout the year.

Some of the capital achievements made over the past year by local organisations with local stakeholders support has successfully resulted in the completion and launch of the extension to Rainbow Child and Family Centre, completion of the Leafair Outdoor Gym and Men’s Cabin, St Brigid’s Parish Centre refurbishment, development of St Pauls PS Family Rooms, the completion of Na Magha Hurling Club new club house, the GSCA Refurbishment at Studio Two, the completion of St Joseph’s boxing new facilities and securing £1.2 million by OFMDFM for the New Leafair Sport & Leisure Facility and £600,000 by OFMDFM for the new Regional play facility at Ballyarnett Country Park. We have also made substantial progress in bringing new ambitions and plans to the fore such as the refurbishment and extension to Shantallow CC, the development of a new community centre in Galliagh, Culmore Integrated Sport, Recreation and Community Facilities Plan, and the redevelopment of Ballyarnett Country Park.

These achievements and ongoing work demonstrate the importance of partnership working and collaboration and the hard work, capacity, commitment and strength of our community & voluntary sector in the Greater Shantallow Area. Overall, we are proud of what we have together achieved over the years to improve the quality of life for so many residents and to help make the Greater Shantallow area a better place to live. We at GSAP with all our stakeholders aim to take the accomplishments of the past 20 years, push forward to meet the challenges ahead, keep doing our part, and keep ahead on a variety of fronts to guarantee that GSAP and our community is successful today, tomorrow, and far down the road. We will continue to give prime importance to strengthen existing partnerships, build new ones and be actively seeking out collaborative ways to achieve the best result for residents in the area.

We aim to continue to develop real partnerships between community groups and residents with statutory agencies and local government, so existing services are retained and new solutions, led by local people, can be found for important social problems.

We will consistently demonstrate our commitment to community ownership by investing in close dialogue with local people and organisations as they identify their own development priorities and we will remain steadfast in our commitment to paying close attention to the needs of our most vulnerable groups. Armed with the same spirit with which we faced the last two decades, we are confident and we are ready for the next 20 years to continue being a credible and relevant service to groups, organisations and residents living within the GSA.