Almost 2000 participants are set to benefit from two new initiatives to bring together residents from six interface communities across Belfast.
Organised by the Housing Executive and Belfast City Council and funded by the EU PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special European Programmes Body,, the new initiatives were launched virtually today (Thursday, February 11, 2021).
£2million is being invested through the Building Positive Relations Programme, which will see new place-shaping action-plans developed to enhance cross-community interaction.
Meanwhile, the Children and Young People’s Project will see an investment of £500,000 to develop the skills of youth participants in each of the six identified areas, giving them an opportunity to learn more about different cultures and make new friends.
The interface areas selected to participate in the programmes are:
• North Belfast
• Clonard/mid-Shankill (West Belfast)
• Black Mountain/Upper Springfield (West Belfast)
• South Belfast
• East Belfast
• Southwest Belfast
Housing Executive Belfast Regional Manager, Jennifer Hawthorne, said; "Promoting good relations is part of our ethos and we’re committed to giving residents the tools they need to address key issues and make a real difference in their local areas.
“Given the current Covid-19 situation, we’ll be using innovative, remote methods of engagement to deliver these programmes, until such times we can resume in-person contact.”
Cllr John Kyle, Chair of the Shared City Partnership at Belfast City Council, said: "Good relations are a core element of the Belfast agenda and are essential in supporting our vision for a shared city.
"It is heartening to see these two projects about to begin in spite of all the challenges we are all currently facing.
"These projects create connections between different communities and identities, they encourage respect for diversity and help bring communities together to develop a shared vision and develop an action plan to achieve this.
“Today's actions will be tomorrow's legacy."
Welcoming the projects Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the SEUPB, said: "The EU PEACE IV Programme is designed to connect people from different places and cultures together in a way that encourages healing, understanding and growth.
“On the theme of connections, I want to congratulate everyone involved in this project on the connection that has been made between Belfast City Council and the Housing Executive, and how this has led to support for local communities across the Greater Belfast area in both the projects we are celebrating here.
“It is fantastic to see how many residents, children and young people, will benefit through their participation, learning and developing new skills and providing opportunities to build a more cohesive society.”
Plans are already underway for a series of events later in the year, further details will be announced in due course.
Match-funding for the projects has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
For more information on the Belfast PEACE IV programme, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/PEACE IV