Children’s Voices in Housing Estate Regeneration

The Challenge

Estate regeneration can affect children’s lives in terms of their living conditions and environmental surroundings, and their sense of safety, belonging, place, identity and community. However, children’s voices are seldom heard in regeneration programmes. This research represented a first step in hearing the voices of children and young people and presented their views in relation to a major regeneration programme underway in the Knocknaheeny housing estate on the Northside of Cork City.

The Research

The research methodology used was a rights-based approach entailing a range of qualitative and creative methods, including focus group activities and discussions, rap with GMCBeats, photography and art. These methods ascertained children and young people’s views and experiences on what they like and do not like about their area, what they think is good and bad, and what they think should be changed. Ten focus groups involving 78 children and young people were held over the spring and summer of 2013.

The Impact

In terms of policy impact, the research informed the goals and objectives of the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-Making (2015-2020) launched by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), which is guided by Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This strategy states as a result of the research that ‘Local Authorities will integrate local children and young people’s participation into Housing Regeneration Programmes funded under the National Regeneration Programme.’

A report and two journal articles have been published from the research:

  • Byrne, L., O'Connell, C. and O'Sullivan, S. (2019) 'Rap and Political Participation: Using Rap as a Creative Method in Research with Children and Young People', Young (forthcoming).
  • O'Sullivan, S., O'Connell, C. and Byrne, L. (2017) ‘Hearing the Voices of Children and Youth in Housing Estate Regeneration’, Children, Youth and Environments, 27(3), 1-15. doi: 10.7721/chilyoutenvi.27.3.0001
  • O'Connell, C., O'Sullivan, S, and Byrne, L. (2015) Children's voices in housing estate regeneration. Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

At the launch of the published report in 2015, the Rappers performed their finished raps in Terence McSwiney Community College for an audience of the school community, their parents and Cork City Council and government officials. The raps are available on

For More Information

The project was funded by the Irish Research Council, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. It was led by Prof Cathal O’Connell ( and Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan ( in the School of Applied Social Studies UCC with Dr Lorcan Byrne, LIT (

“This exciting and creative project engaged with children and young people who had never been asked their opinions before about the significant changes in their area. Their input has been very significant to enhancing children’s rights in Ireland.”

Dr Shirley Martin, PI Immerse, H2020 Project, UCC

College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences

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