Over 200 community groups from across Northern Ireland attended the annual Housing Community Network Community Conference in the Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh on October 16.
Resilient Communities was the theme of the gathering, organised in partnership with the Housing Executive, Supporting Communities and the Central Housing Forum.
Opening the event, Central Housing Forum Chair Linda Watson reflected on the twenty years since from the first Community Conference, held in Cookstown in 1999.
Linda pointed out that while much had changed in that time, communities remain resilient and hard work from grassroots groups across Northern Ireland had made an enormous impact in building more successful, stable and settled communities.
Clark Bailie, the Housing Executive’s Chief Executive, said:
“This event is now a staple in the diary of the community sector in Northern Ireland and it gives us a chance to recognize and celebrate the amazing work undertaken by groups on the ground.
“I’m delighted Omagh was the venue – it’s always great to come west of the Bann and there was definitely a local feel to proceedings this year.”
Conference inspiration was provided by Carrickmore author and social influencer Annette Kelly, whose Little Penny Thoughts social media pages provide motivation and mindful reflection for hundreds of thousands of followers each day.
Omagh’s own St Eugene’s Brass and Reed Band and Ebrington Primary School Choir also entertained the delegates, who had travelled from all across Northern Ireland to share learning with others working at the coal face in local areas.
Colm McDaid, Chief Executive of Supporting Communities, said:
“This event is a great platform to allow Housing Community Network to share best practice and twenty years on, we’re still learning more and more each year.
“I’d like to congratulate everyone who made this twentieth anniversary event so special – Omagh was the perfect venue and we thank all those who have worked so hard for the last two decades to foster vibrant communities.”