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Draft equality impact assessment

August 2022


  1. Introduction
  2. About equality impact assessments
  3. Background to Belfast Stories
  4. Defining the aims of Belfast Stories
  5. Relevant research
  6. Assessment of impacts
  7. Consideration of alternative policies and mitigating actions
  8. Consultation
  9. Appendix 1: Equality Scheme consultees
  10. Appendix 2: The draft story collection principles and themes
  11. Appendix 3: Belfast’s population by Section 75 dimension
  12. Appendix 4: Consultees engaged to date

1. Introduction

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 places a duty on all public authorities to have due regard when carrying out its business [Footnote 1] to the need to promote equality of opportunity:

  • between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation
  • between men and women generally
  • between persons with a disability and persons without
  • between persons with dependants and persons without.

Section 75 also places a duty on all public authorities to have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion and racial group.

About Belfast Stories

In December 2021, Belfast City Council announced its plans for a new visitor attraction in Belfast city centre.

Funded by the Belfast Region City Deal (link opens in new window) and Belfast City Council, Belfast Stories will open at the former Bank of Ireland buildings, 92 Royal Avenue (where North Street and Royal Avenue meet) by 2028.

It aims to attract both tourists and locals while helping to regenerate the city and surrounding areas.

Belfast Stories is at the stage of developing the design brief. During this stage Belfast City Council will explore how the design and content of Belfast Stories can help achieve its aims and objectives.

A public consultation will run from 10 August to 14 November 2022, and it will gather ideas and evidence to help shape the design brief. It will focus on:

  1. raising awareness of Belfast Stories so that people are excited and want to continue to be engaged in its development and
  2. making sure that Belfast Stories is for everyone. This means making sure that the building is welcoming and accessible and everyone can see themselves reflected in its stories. During the public consultation we will do this in three main ways – by asking you to share your thoughts on our draft 
    1. equality impact assessment
    2. rural needs impact assessment and
    3. framework for gathering stories

There will then be ongoing engagement with different people and organisations to help shape Belfast Stories right up until it opens in 2028 – and beyond.

Here are some key dates for the rest of the project.

What When
Ongoing engagement with people and organisations Public consultation to inform the design brief August to October 2022
Concept design January to July 2023
Second outline business case developed June to August 2023 
Public consultation on concept design Autumn 2023
Spatial coordination and technical design (RIBA 3 and 4) January 2024 to February 2025 
First full business case developed February to September 2024
Planning permission including public consultation August 2024 to February 2025 
Second full business case developed February 2025 to March 2025
Construction April 2025 to October 2027 
Fitout (RIBA 5) November 2027 to November 2028 
Opening (RIBA 6) November 2028 

Purpose of this Equality Impact Assessment

Belfast City Council recognises Belfast Stories as a major development which will impact on staff, residents and other ratepayers. As a result, it could also impact on people and groups associated with the nine Section 75 equality categories.

An initial equality screening was carried out in December 2021. It recommended that an equality impact assessment (EQIA) be carried out on Belfast Stories, potentially at different stages in the project, such as concept and design stages.  

This draft EQIA sets out the current position in terms of the actual and potential equality impacts of Belfast Stories. It is currently open for consultation with feedback being sought from Belfast City Council’s Equality Scheme consultees (see appendix 1), other interested stakeholders and the general public.

More information on how you can take part in the public consultation is included in 8. Consultation of this report.

2. About Equality Impact Assessments

An EQIA is an analysis of a policy or project to determine the extent to which it could impact differently on the groups within the nine equality categories [Footnote 2] and the nature of that impact – whether it is positive or negative.

If it is decided that the policy or project has a negative impact on one or more of the nine equality categories, the council must consider how it could address the negative impact, including different ways to deliver the aims of the project so as to have less of a negative impact. 

How to carry out an EQIA

According to the Equality Commission NI’s Practical Guidance on Equality Impact Assessment (2004), an EQIA should take seven steps.

  • Step 1 Defining the aims of the policy
  • Step 2 Consideration of available data and research
  • Step 3 Assessment of impacts
  • Step 4 Consideration of:
    1. measures which might mitigate any negative impact and
    2. alternative policies which might better achieve the promotion of equality of opportunity
  • Step 5 Consultation
  • Step 6 Decision by the council and publication of results of the EQIA
  • Step 7 Monitoring for adverse impact in the future and publication of the results of the monitoring

This EQIA has closely followed the Equality Commission’s Practical Guidance. Steps 1 to 4 have been completed and are detailed in this report.

The report is now open for public consultation over a 14-week period between 10 August and 14 November. It accompanies the public consultation on the outline Belfast Stories concept, story collection principles and themes and draft engagement plan, which details how Belfast City Council plans to continue to involve people and groups in the development of Belfast Stories.

Next steps

At the end of the consultation period, the draft EQIA report will be revised, taking into account comments received during the consultation, and a final EQIA report will be prepared for Belfast City Council. This will help Belfast City Council make decisions about the Belfast Stories initiative.  

The results of the EQIA will be published on the council’s website and intranet and in its annual report to the Equality Commission.

Monitoring for future adverse impacts

A system will be established to monitor the impact of Belfast Stories on relevant groups within the equality categories.

The results of such monitoring will be published in keeping with the council’s Equality Scheme, and action will be taken if the results demonstrate that the project is having a greater negative impact than anticipated.

3. Background to Belfast Stories

Initial development

Engagement around the concept of a Belfast Stories has been ongoing since 2014 when the need for a second major visitor attraction in the city was identified while Belfast City Council was developing its then tourism strategy. It has subsequently been formally consulted on during public consultations on the council’s Belfast Agenda, Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment, A City Imagining and Make Yourself at Home strategies. [Footnote 3]

In 2017 a conceptual framework was developed, including plans for co-locating the film centre, a landmark tourism attraction, digital skills programming, a cultural centre and leisure and public realm facilities.

Equality Framework

Belfast Stories’ Equality Framework was developed in 2021. It recognises that the project’s vision cannot be achieved unless equality, diversity and inclusion are placed at its core and supported by co-design and an inclusive process throughout all stages of development.

It recommends that engagement be:

“an ongoing cumulative process, enabling relationships, building trust and strengthening links over time […]  Residents, voluntary and community groups, specialists and concerned or interested individuals, may want to participate at a range of levels – from providing advice to co-designing the process, undertaking some aspects of the engagement to delivering projects to meet some of the outcomes.”

It also recommends that equality screening and impact assessments should be carried out at different stages and on different elements of the project including the overall concept and story collection concept.  

At this stage, it recommends that the purpose of consultation should be to:

  • Gather people's views around the concept and its key components
  • Identify any barriers for specific groups/citizens in relation to proposal
  • Identify clear issues for mitigation of any barriers
  • Raise awareness of Belfast Stories and the council’s commitment to inclusive and co-design principles with citizens and key stakeholders

Belfast Region City Deal

In 2021 in preparation for the Belfast Region City Deal (link opens in new window) bid, over 50 stakeholder organisations were engaged around the concept at over 160 meetings and presentations.

In December 2021, the Belfast Region City Deal was signed, securing a bespoke package of investment from central government and the BRCD partners of more than £850 million, including investment in the £100 million visitor destination now known as Belfast Stories.

The Belfast Stories concept

Belfast Stories will be a new visitor attraction that will open at the former Bank of Ireland buildings, 92 Royal Avenue by 2028.

There are three main parts to the visitor centre: stories, screen and social.


These will be first-person accounts of the city by the people who call it home.

These stories will be discovered through an ambitious citywide story collection programme that will include:

  • uncovering the stories that are already held by museums, archives, local history groups, communities and others
  • collecting new stories, particularly those people and groups whose stories may not yet have been heard

The stories will be exhibited using a range of media – words, pictures, photographs, animation, film, virtual technology and so on – in 2,000m2 of exhibition space including a library of stories, a main exhibition space and temporary exhibition spaces. Visitors will be guided through the space by a trail which will end at a viewing platform on top of the building where they can reflect on the story of the whole city.  


Belfast Stories film centre will house a state-of-the-art five-screen cinema (including an outdoor screen), offering, for example, premieres and new releases from around the world, film festivals and special events.

It will also contain NI’s digital screen archive, which visitors can explore, supported by a year-round programme of talks and interactive events. 

The film centre will also support the local film industry with developmental space, flexible learning spaces and a story lab. There will be a particular focus on children and young people.


The exhibition space and film centre will be connected by public spaces where people can meet, eat, shop and relax. These will include:

  • a central open-air courtyard
  • pocket squares and laneways
  • roof gardens
  • cafes, restaurants and bars sharing local produce and cuisine – Belfast’s “food story”
  • shops selling local products 

These spaces will be brought to life through a programme of events, pop-up shops and street food.

Gathering Stories - principles and themes

A draft framework for gathering stories was developed by Lord Cultural Resources in consultation with over 50 stakeholders in 2021.

The purpose of the framework is to help gather, sort and celebrate a wealth of Belfast stories without being constraining. It is essential that the framework for gathering stories is inclusive of different people and groups so that they will share their stories.

Stories will be told in the first person to keep their distinctive, human and relatable voice, told from a personal point of view rather than by an official or authority.  

Stories can be about the past, present or future, and there are seven themes:

  1. Home
  2. Resilient
  3. Place
  4. Change
  5. Innovative
  6. Authentic
  7. Creative

Each theme has between 11 to 16 subthemes, but the framework is designed to be flexible. Stories may fit under more than one theme. If stories do not fit under a particular subtheme, a new one can be created. 

Stories will be mostly Belfast-focused, but they will have common threads that will show how Belfast connects with global history and current affairs (such as Black Lives Matter, climate change or #MeToo).

The themes are underpinned by five principles.

  1. Equality and inclusiveness
  2. Increased accessibility and co-creation
  3. Pressure free
  4. Respect
  5. People centred

A summary of the principles and themes from the framework for gathering stories is included at appendix 2 at the end of this document.  

Approach to consultation and engagement

The Belfast Stories engagement plan sets out how Belfast City Council plans to continue to involve different people and groups in the development of Belfast Stories.

In keeping with Belfast City Council’s Consultation and Engagement Framework, the engagement plan recognises that:

“Engagement is a process by which Belfast City Council communicates with its residents and stakeholders so that it can make better decisions about things that affect them. Engagement can help people feel informed, connected, heard, involved and valued. It also helps make decisions, policies and services that are better suited to the people they are intended to benefit.

“Belfast Stories will be a success if the people of Belfast love it, are proud of it and feel that it is truly theirs."

“We cannot make this happen without engaging the organisations that work in the city and the people who call it home. Together we have the knowledge, insight and ideas to bring our stories to life.”

Between August 2022 and August 2023 (the design brief and concept design stages), Belfast City Council will carry out two phases of consultation and engagement.

1. Public consultation

The public consultation will run for 14 weeks from week from 10 August to 14 November. The public consultation will focus on:

  1. raising awareness of the Belfast Stories concept  
  2. making sure that Belfast Stories can be a positive experience for everyone, including by consulting on:
    1. the draft EQIA
    2. draft rural needs impact assessment and
    3. draft principles and themes from the framework for gathering stories.

2. Ongoing engagement

Ongoing engagement will be structured around four work strands. The strands will come together in an integrated design steering group, which will be responsible for ensuring that the design of the building and exhibition reflects the needs and wants of its many stakeholders, while it remains authentic, relevant, inclusive and accessible for the people of Belfast.

1. Equity

Equity recognises that not everyone starts from the same place. It gives people the different resources and opportunities they need to take part. 

For Belfast Stories, this means that some people and groups may be more at risk of

  • not hearing about the project
  • not taking part in the public consultation
  • not having their stories told or seeing stories of people like them represented or
  • not having access to the building, its spaces and experiences

2. Sustainability

The purpose of this strand is to make sure that Belfast Stories is green and sustainable. It will bring together environmental, tourism, culture and economic development stakeholders. 

3. Partnership

The city stakeholders network will be open to any organisation with an interest in Belfast Stories.   

4. Experiences

This strand will bring together stakeholders around the stories, screen and social elements of the concept.

The Equity Steering Group

We have set up an equity steering group based on co-design principles. Co-design is a way of thinking and working that recognises people are part of the solution because they are experts in their own experience. It invests in equal relationships and supports everyone to make decisions about what affects them.

The equity steering group will be made up of Belfast City Council staff working alongside people who are experts by experience of being less heard or listened to due to their identity or circumstance including:

  • People from different faith, political and cultural backgrounds 
  • People from minoritized ethnic communities
  • Deaf/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people
  • Older people
  • Children and young people
  • Women
  • Carers and people with dependants
  • LGBTQ+ people

Between August 2022 and August 2023, the steering group will:

  • identify and connect to “missing voices” and groups of people most at risk of missing out
  • co-design an engagement programme that will help ensure that everyone can have their stories heard and can access the building
  • co-produce engagement opportunities throughout the public consultation and ongoing engagement, for example, by hosting or facilitating meetings or carrying out peer research
  • check the accessibility of consultation materials
  • act as a critical friend, helping to equity-proof and shape the design of the building and its experiences

The engagement plan recommends that the equity steering group should continue to run after August 2023, when it will co-design its new priorities, which might include, for example:

  • building the confidence and trust of missing voices to share their stories and
  • marketing and communications. 

The membership of the steering group will change as one of its roles will be to continually ask itself “Who else needs to be part of the discussion around this table?” 

4. Defining the aims of Belfast Stories

Belfast Stories is a flagship project that aims to attract both tourists and local people. As part of the Belfast Region City Deal, it also aims to help regenerate the city and surrounding areas.

Its objectives are:

  • To grow Belfast’s tourism economy
  • To create and sustain a diversified, vibrant city centre – an attractive place to live in, invest in and work in
  • To support and promote the NI screen and film sector
  • To co-create a user-generated, authentic experience that engenders a greater sense of connection and belonging for local people and visitors.

5. Relevant research

Demographic make-up of Belfast’s resident population

A breakdown of Belfast’s resident population, drawn from the 2011 Census, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency’s mid-year population estimates and 2019 local council elections, is included in appendix 3.

Council policies and strategies

Equality Scheme

The council’s revised Equality Scheme (approved in 2021) sets out Belfast City Council’s arrangements for complying with the equality duties under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It includes a commitment to provide information in alternative formats on request were reasonably practicable. The scheme states that alternative formats may include Easy Read, Braille, audio formats (CD, mp3 or DAISY), large print or minority languages to meet the needs of those for whom English is not their first language.

Language Strategy

Belfast City Council’s 2018 Language Strategy aspires to create a place where linguistic diversity is celebrated and respected. It has two key purposes.

  1. To protect and promote awareness of our indigenous languages of Irish and Ulster-Scots
  2. To promote access to, inclusion of and awareness of other languages including sign languages, the languages of new communities who live in Belfast and languages and communication for disabled people

Good Relations Strategy

Under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, all public bodies, including Belfast City Council must have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious beliefs, political opinion or racial group.

The council’s Good Relations Strategy was adopted in 2019. It states that it “aims to promote sharing over separation and the economic, social and environmental benefits of such. We need to continue to create spaces for communities to interact and make connections with each other, moving from parallel living to meaningful relationships and casual interactions”.

It also sets down the five outcomes it seeks to achieve.

  • Outcome one: Strong, positive and transformative civic leadership – inclusive governance with community changemakers
  • Outcome two: Shared and connected spaces – a smart, connected city driven by inclusive and transformative place making
  • Outcome three: Shared services – focusing on co-design and social innovation
  • Outcome four: Structured collaboration and partnerships
  • Outcome five: An intercultural city and respectful cultural expression within the rule of law

The Belfast Agenda

The Belfast Agenda (link opens in new window), Belfast’s first community plan, was published in 2017. It is currently being reviewed and revised.

At its core, the Belfast Agenda has the aim of improving the wellbeing of all Belfast citizens, and it has the potential to promote equality of opportunity and good relations, tackle and address issues of exclusion and marginalisation and have a positive impact on all Section 75 groups.

The intended outcomes of the Belfast Agenda are:

  • Everyone in Belfast benefits from a thriving and prosperous economy
  • Belfast is safe, fair and inclusive for all
  • Belfast is a place that is vibrant, attractive, connected and environmentally sustainable
  • Everyone experiences good health and wellbeing
  • Everyone fulfils their potential

It is underpinned by values including “A focus on outcomes for people”, “Equality and good relations” and “Inclusiveness, care and compassion”. It recognises the need to “deliver services differently, in a more integrated way that is focused on the needs of people and helps them participate fully in the life of the city.”

Corporate Plan

The draft Corporate Plan (2019 to 2023) supports the Belfast Agenda through its themes of:

  • Growing the economy
  • Living here
  • Working and learning
  • City development
  • Resilience and sustainability
  • Cross-cutting priorities, including implementing the Good Relations Strategy and developing and implementing the city’s cultural strategy, A City Imagining

It also introduces a number of organisational capabilities required to deliver excellent service and city leadership. Priorities under organisational capabilities include data development, people development, customer focus, continuous improvement and equality, diversity and inclusion.

City centre regeneration and investment strategy

Published in 2015, the City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy recognises that Belfast:

“city centre is one of the most important places in Northern Ireland. [It is] where investment impact can be maximised, where rates are generated and where momentum can be built to support growth in the surrounding neighbourhoods.”

Inner North Belfast (including the North Street and Royal Avenue intersection) is recognised as a special action area which “should be home to Belfast’s growing learning and innovation culture” and considers opportunities for a “creative hub”.

A City Imagining

A City Imagining, Belfast City Council’s cultural strategy for 2020 to 2030, places culture and creativity at the heart of civic development.

There are four themes within the strategy.

  1. A City Belonging (active participation): Priorities under this theme will support citizens to be active agents of change and co-creators of cultural activity.
  2. A City Challenging (diversity): Priorities under this theme will aspire to cultivate creative environments for dynamic co-creation and synergy in our placemaking.
  3. A City Creating (new approaches): Priorities under this theme will facilitate and explore new ways of working, taking more risks and helping artists to have more autonomy to engage with citizens in new and creative ways. 
  4. A City Exploring (our place in the world): Priorities under this theme will sustain, strengthen and develop the city’s cultural ecosystem. 

It identifies a major cultural attraction that will be shaped by the stories of local people, attract visitors and connect to the city’s wider cultural offering as a strategic project.  

Make yourself at home

Belfast City Council’s tourism strategy 2022 (link opens in new window) places authentic, local stories as key to attracting visitors to the city. It identifies Belfast Stories as a physical home for some of these stories and the flagship investment in product development in the city:

“Belfast Stories is a transformational project designed to capture the unique spirit of Belfast. This major regeneration and tourism anchor will help revitalise our city centre, allowing people to connect with the city and one another through stories, screens and social spaces.”

It details how the physical building and its contents will be supported by wider programmes of storytelling and development.

Consultation and Engagement Framework

Belfast City Council’s Consultation and Engagement Framework describes a broad spectrum of two-way communication (from consultation to engagement to involvement) between the council and its residents and stakeholders. It recognises that effective dialogue helps make decisions, policies and services that are better suited to the people they are intended to benefit.

Findings from consultation to date

The concept Belfast Stories has been broadly welcomed in all consultation carried out to date.

Make Yourself at Home tourism strategy consultation

Responses relevant to equality provided through the online survey included:

“4 out of 5 young people surveyed in Belfast this year said that they planned to leave the city as 'Belfast had nothing for them' – we believe we need an initiative that includes them in tourism development” 

“More Consultation with the BAME led organisations. The Neighbourhood experience should include like China Town or Leicester, London or Glasgow Cultural experiences”

“Belfast has an unfair reputation of being not welcoming for LGBT+ people, if our city wants to establish as a international destination it needs to address this by ensuring community infrastructure and making sure that LGBT+ community are safe and recognised and even celebrated.”

Participants also took part in workshops, which included breakout sessions on Belfast Stories. Barriers identified included costs, particularly for families. Consideration should be given to allowing people to bring their own food and drink.

Engagement to date

In the last 12 months, over 160 meetings and presentations have taken place with organisations and groups across the city including older people, youth, disability and women’s interest groups and geographic community groups (see appendix 4 for a list of consultees to date).

Findings relevant to this EQIA include:

  • Need to follow inclusive design principles
  • Importance of co-design
  • Equality considerations should “go beyond” the statutory requirements
  • Need to include the stories of people who come to work in Belfast from minoritized ethnic groups
  • Transportation can be a barrier, particularly for older people
  • Ticket price can be a barrier, particularly for younger people. Open and public spaces should be free of charge.

Draft framework for gathering stories consultation

The draft framework for gathering stories was developed by Lord Cultural Resources in consultation with over 50 stakeholders including representatives from museums, libraries, archives and other collections. Consultees identified that the following voices are more likely to be missing from or underrepresented voices in current stories and collections:

  • Women
  • Youth (includes teenagers and student population)
  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Religious and ethnic minorities
  • Transient/migrant populations
  • LGBTQ+
  • Marginalized people (prisoners/ex-prisoners, children in foster care, homeless, refugees, illegal workers)
  • People with special needs

Lord notes that “this is not an issue specific to Belfast or Northern Ireland, but rather a common issue across all cultural organisations around the globe. We also note that the organisations we have spoken to are well aware of these and are actively seeking to rebalance things.” Nevertheless, it continues that “The voices of stories that are collected [as part of Belfast Stories] should encompass inclusivity and equality in all audience groups”.

Other relevant research

Equality screening

Belfast City Council’s equality screening of the Belfast Stories outline business case found that:

“There is nothing inherent in the principles underpinning the concept of the Belfast Stories to indicate an adverse impact on one or more of the Section 75 groups. Instead, the concept will follow inclusivity principles for all residents and visitors […] will bring about advantages to Belfast citizens irrespective of their identity.” 

However, it continues “The Belfast Stories aspects of this project needs to ensure equal representation of residents and visitors of different [identities]”.

As a result, it recommends that an EQIA should be carried out, potentially at key milestones such as concept, design and content stages.

Engagement with culture among equality groups

Belfast Stories will use expressions of culture to attract visitors. Stories can relate to heritage as well as about the present and the future. They can be drawn from existing archives, libraries, museums and other collections. They may be expressed through film, literature, visual arts, sound, digital technology and other creative mediums.

The following section considers how different people and groups across the different equality categories may engage with culture.

The main source of statistical information is the Continuous Household Survey. It is used by the NI Statistics and Research Agency to produce official statistics for the Department for Communities (DfC).[Footnote 4] Its figures relate to the whole of NI.  

Thrive, the audience development agency, carried out Belfast-specific research in 2016/17. It also looked in more detail at different types of culture (such as popular and cultural film, music, heritage and outdoor events).

Religious belief

According to DfC in 2020/121, people from the two main religions, Catholic and Protestant, were equally as likely (86 per cent) to engage with culture (including arts, libraries, museums, PRONI and places of historic interest). 89 per cent of people of other or no religion engaged in culture, although the margin of error in the statistics means the difference is not significant.

Ethnic group

There is currently no regularly published local government or NI data relating to the ethnic background, social status or class or occupation of those engaging in culture and arts.

In GB, research has found that people from White or Mixed ethnic backgrounds are more likely to engage with the arts than people from Black or Asian minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.[Footnote 5]

People from minority ethnic groups can face multiple social, economic and cultural barriers to sports, arts and other cultural engagement. These barriers to participation may include communications and language; perceived irrelevance of arts to own culture; money; lack of transport; and lack of time and timings of events.

Diversity means that people see others “like them” involved in culture and have their culture and experience reflected back in activity that is relevant and authentic. In 2020/21 the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) reported that 5 per cent of the workforce of their core-funded clients were from a minority ethnic background, while 24 per cent of core-funded activity specifically targeted minority ethnic groups.[Footnote 6]


People tend to engage less with culture and arts as they get older, and those aged 65 and over are least likely to engage. The decline continues as people reach 75 and older. A lot of research identifies older people as the demographic group where there is greatest inequality and that is most difficult to engage. However, there are also differential impacts depending on type of culture and activity (sports, arts, heritage, participation, attendance, and so on).

Thrive’s 2016/17 audience baseline found that older people are more likely to watch a cultural film (arthouse, documentary or foreign language), participate in museums and heritage activity, attend literature events and use public archives than other ages.

It also identified that there is a likely correlation with marital status: that is, older, single people are less likely to engage with culture.

Having someone to go with may also be a barrier: the Age-friendly Belfast Plan 2018–21 found that one in five older people in Belfast do not have any close friends. This is higher for men (22 per cent compared to 16 per cent for women) and for those in the oldest age group.

Among other age groups, Thrive’s research showed that cost is the main barrier for both 16 to 24-year-olds and 45 to 54-year-olds. 25 to 34-years-olds are time-poor because of their social lives, but 35 to 44-year-olds are time-poor because of family and work.

Research in England has found that outdoor arts audiences tend to be representative of the demographics of the public in their area.[Footnote 7] However, Thrive found that this is not the case in NI where outdoor audiences tend to skew younger. There may be practical and societal barriers such as ableism – 1 in every 2 people aged over 65 in Belfast has a disability or long-term health condition – and lack of transport or seating. This means that there is an opportunity to learn from the diversity of outdoor events in GB.

Marital status

According to DfC, in 2020/21 married or cohabiting and single people (88 per cent) were more likely than separated or divorced and widowed people (82 per cent and 71 per cent respectively) to engage with culture. Barriers to engagement may include cost and lack of people to go with.

As outlined above, Thrive’s 2016/17 audience baseline indicates there is a likely correlation between age, marital status and cultural engagement.


ACNI’s Annual Funding Survey 2020/21 reports that 22 per cent of core-funded activity specifically targets LGBTQ+ communities.[Footnote 8] However, there is little information on rates of cultural attendance and participation among this community. Barriers to participation may include services designed on the assumption that the users are heterosexual and events and activities that are not reflective of their culture.

Men and women generally

Women are historically more likely to engage in culture than men, although the gap appears to be closing: according to DfC in 2020/21, 88 per cent of women in NI engaged with culture compared to 85 per cent of men (the difference is not statistically significant).

There are also differences depending on type of culture and activity (sports, arts, heritage, participation, attendance, and so on). However, there were a few areas that Thrive found to be a little more popular with men. These included certain types of music (techno/electronic, jazz/Blues and folk/trad/world music), comedy and public archives.

There are also differences according to multiple identities: for example, young men are harder to engage than young women or men generally; they are much less likely to participate in activities such as reading; but they are much more likely to engage in some digital culture such as playing computer games.

Disabled people

According to DfC, in 2019/20 disabled people were less likely to engage in arts than people without disabilities (77 per cent compared to 90 per cent) or to visit a place of historic interest (47 per cent compared to 62 per cent).

Thrive found the difference greatest in these activities.  

  1. Watching a mainstream film on general released in a cinema or venue
  2. Attending big outdoor event
  3. Visiting a museum or historical exhibition
  4. Attending rock, pop or country music
  5. Visiting a National Trust property
  6. Reading books or eBooks
  7. Watching a mainstream film on general release: at home or in private
  8. Visiting any other historic site (castle, ruin, historic church or cathedral)
  9. Watching a documentary, foreign language or arthouse film: at home or in private
  10. Attending a play or drama

According to the ACNI, disabled audiences are more likely to feel uncomfortable or out of place (10 per cent compared to 2 per cent compared to the general population), lack transport (11 per cent compared to 3 per cent) and have access to the facilities they need at an activity (4 per cent compared to 0.3 per cent).[Footnote 9]

People with dependants

Historically, people with dependants have been more likely to engage with culture, which may reflect the volume and variety of programming aimed at children and families. However, this gap appears to be closing: in 2020/21, DfC reported that 89 per cent of people with dependants engaged in culture compared to 85 per cent of people without dependants (the difference is not statistically significant).  

There may be differential impacts for different groups with dependants, such as lone parents. It is also likely that people with caring responsibilities for older people and disabled people face additional barriers including transport, cost, time and need for respite care.

Participation in consultation and engagement

Evidence from recent Belfast City Council surveys suggests that younger people tend to be less involved in council consultation and engagement. For example, 2 per cent of respondents to a 2019 council survey were under 24 compared to 61 per cent who were aged 25 to 59.

Younger people are also less likely to feel that they are able to influence public policy. According to the 2020 Belfast residents’ survey, 47.5 per cent of young people aged 16 to 24 agreed that “I am able to have a say on how services are run, what the priorities are or where investment is needed” compared to 59.5 per cent for the whole population across all ages.

According to the council’s Equality Consultative Forum, people with caring responsibilities may find it difficult to take part in engagement opportunities, and the council’s Putting You First customer service strategy notes that people with dependants may prefer to carry out business digitally due to demands on their time.

However, digital solutions do not work for everyone: according to Age-friendly Belfast, 51 per cent of people aged 65 and over in Belfast have never accessed the internet. 

Putting You First: Transforming Customer Experiences also notes increasing challenges serving all customers due to language barriers and cultural differences.

6. Assessment of impacts

Belfast City Council recognised that Belfast Stories had the potential to impact differently on people and groups associated with the nine Section 75 equality categories. Barriers that particular groups face to activity that is similar in nature to Belfast Stories include emotional barriers (such as anxiety or discomfort); interest barriers (not relevant, don’t know what’s available); practical barriers (cost, transport); and societal barriers (racism, ableism).

The Belfast Stories Equality Framework established the broad parameters to help ensure that barriers are removed and equality, diversity and inclusion remain at the heart of the project’s development. This included recommending regular screening, consultation and engagement and co-design and inclusive design processes.

Belfast Stories’ engagement plan and draft framework for gathering stories builds on this foundation. It identifies groups who are less likely to access, experience or feel represented in Belfast Stories and sets down a range of actions to mitigate potential differential impact.

Central to this is the equity steering group, which will bring together representatives from the nine equality groups to co-design further engagement and opportunities to promote equal opportunities and good relations. This group will also support the wider engagement plan and influence the design of the building and plans for the collection, curation and exhibition of its stories, making it accessible, welcoming and representative for all.   

Other planned mitigations include:

  • a concentrated period of public consultation aimed at making the building welcoming and accessible and ensuring everyone can see themselves reflected in its stories
  • consultation the council’s Equality Consultative Forum and other key organisations representing protected groups of people not engaged through any other method 
  • information available in written, visual and Easy Read formats and other formats on request
  • a range of tailored engagement tools from online surveys and quizzes to focus groups, creative workshops and hard-hat tours
  • substantial ongoing engagement including around the theme of equity
  • further public consultation and equality screening
  • monitoring engagement across different Section 75 groups

In this way, Belfast Stories has the potential to have a positive impact on equality of opportunity and good relations across all Section 75 categories.

At the end of this public consultation, Belfast City Council will collate and analyse all feedback, which will be used to produce a final EQIA report and further shape the development of Belfast Stories. This consultation welcomes further evidence of any impacts on Section 75 groups.

7. Consideration of alternative policies and mitigating actions

Step 4 of the Equality Commission NI’s Practical Guidance on Equality Impact Assessment requires that an EQIA considers mitigating actions where a negative impact has been identified.

The evidence currently available indicates that the project has the potential to impact positively across all Section 75 equality categories.

The consultation welcomes further evidence of any impacts on Section 75 groups.

Monitoring for negative impact in the future

Belfast City Council will continue to monitor impact throughout the development of Belfast Stories and review it at least annually including:

  • at the end of this public consultation period, when the draft EQIA report will be revised, taking into account comments received during the consultation, and a final EQIA report will be prepared for Belfast City Council. The results of the EQIA will be published on the council’s website and intranet and in its annual report to the Equality Commission.
  • in August 2023 when a report on this stage of the engagement process (design brief to concept design) will be prepared and published on the council’s website
  • in autumn 2023 when a further equality screening will be carried out in advance of a public consultation on the concept design
  • between August 2024 and February 2025 when a further equality screening will be carried out as part of the planning permission and public consultation process

The results of monitoring will be included in Belfast City Council’s annual review on progress to the Equality Commission and in line with the council’s Equality Scheme. If the monitoring and analysis over a two-year period show a greater adverse impact than predicted or if opportunities arise which would allow for greater equality of opportunity to be promoted, Belfast City Council will take measures to achieve better outcomes for the relevant equality groups.

8. Consultation

The public consultation will run for 14 weeks from 10 August to 14 November.

A public advertisement will be placed in Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, Newsletter, Andersonstown News, Shankill Mirror.

Members of Belfast City Council’s Equality Consultative Forum will be notified of this EQIA and invited to respond.

You can also ask for a printed copy of the consultation documents, and we will try to make them available in other formats or languages if you need them. The council’s contact details are below.

Other ways to get involved are detailed below.


You can log on to our consultation hub (link opens in new window)

It will contain all the up-to-date information on Belfast Stories' development and ways you can be involved.

You can also sign up to receive email updates.

The survey

You can complete the online survey at Your Say Belfast (link opens in new window)

In person

We will be delivering workshops and other activities in 2 Royal Avenue from 24 October to 4 November 2022. We will also be in a number of other locations across the city before this.

There will be more opportunities to take part, so keep up to date. Sign up for emails on the consultation hub or get in touch via one of our contact channels. If you are interested in hosting an event or would like us to attend a group that you are involved with, please get in touch.

Our contact details


Appendix 1: Equality Scheme consultees

  • Action Ability Belfast
  • Action Deaf Youth
  • Action On Hearing Loss
  • Age NI
  • Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
  • Alzheimer's Society NI Belfast
  • Ardoyne Association Advice Centre
  • Ardoyne Community Centre
  • Arthritis Care NI
  • Arts Council NI
  • Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland
  • Autism NI
  • Aware NI
  • Ballynafeigh Community Development Assoc
  • Barnardo's Northern Ireland
  • Belfast Baha'I Community
  • Belfast Chinese Christian Church
  • Belfast Health & Social Care Trust
  • Belfast Islamic Centre
  • Belfast Jewish Community
  • Belfast Lions Club
  • Brain Injury Matters
  • Braniel Community Centre
  • British Deaf Association NI
  • British Deaf Association NI
  • Bryson An Munia Tober
  • Business Services Organisation
  • CARA Friend
  • Carers Northern Ireland
  • Carew 11 Family & Training Centre
  • Centre for Independent Living
  • Childrens Law Centre
  • Chinese Welfare Association Northern Ireland
  • Communication Workers Union
  • Community Development & Health Network NI
  • Community Foundation
  • Concorde Community Centre
  • Co-Operation Ireland
  • Council for the Homeless NI
  • Cregagh Youth & Community Centre
  • Culturlann McAdam Ó Fiaich
  • Dee Street Community Centre
  • Democratic Unionist Party
  • Diocese of Connor
  • Disability Action
  • Disability Action NI
  • Disability Network Real
  • Disability Sports NI
  • Divis Community Centre
  • Donegall Pass Community Centre
  • East Side Partnership
  • Education Authority
  • Employers' Forum on Disability
  • Epilepsy Action NI
  • Equality Coalition
  • Equality Commission NI
  • Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland
  • Falls Community Council
  • Féile An Phobail
  • Finaghy Community Centre
  • Forbairt Feirste
  • Gay & Lesbian Youth in NI
  • Glen Road Community Centre
  • GMB
  • Greater Shankill Partnership Board
  • Green Party
  • Guide Dogs Northern Ireland
  • Hammer Community Centre
  • Here NI
  • Highfield Community Centre
  • Horn Drive Community Centre
  • Housing Rights
  • Indian Community Centre
  • Inverary Community Centre
  • Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  • Knocknagoney Community Centre
  • Lenadoon Community Forum
  • Ligoniel Community Centre
  • Markets Community Centre
  • Mencap Northern Ireland
  • Methodist Church in Ireland
  • Mind Wise NI
  • Morton Community Centre
  • MS Society NI
  • Multicultural Group-Windsor Women's Centre
  • NAS Northern Ireland
  • NASUWT Northern Ireland
  • National Children's Bureau Northern Ireland (NCB NI)
  • NDCS Northern Ireland
  • Neurological Alliance of Ireland
  • Newtownards Road Women's Group Ltd
  • NI Chest Heart and Stroke
  • NI Community Relations Council
  • North Belfast Senior Citizen's Forum
  • North Queen Street Community Centre
  • Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce
  • Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • Northern Ireland European Women's Platform
  • Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association
  • Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
  • Northern Ireland Muslim Family Association
  • Northern Ireland Policing Board
  • NOW Group
  • OI Kwan Chinese Women’s Group
  • Parkinson's UK in Northern Ireland
  • People before Profit Alliance
  • Play Resource
  • Playboard
  • Pobal
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • Probation Board for Northern Ireland
  • Progressive Unionist Party
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • QueerSpace
  • Rainbow Project
  • RNIB
  • Royal British Legion
  • Rural Development Council NI
  • Sandy Row Community Centre
  • Save the Children Fund
  • Sense Northern Ireland
  • Shankill Women's Centre
  • Shopmobility Belfast
  • Simon Community Northern Ireland
  • Sinn Féin
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party
  • South Belfast Partnership Board
  • Sport Northern Ireland
  • Stroke Association NI
  • Suffolk Community Centre
  • The Cedar Foundation
  • The Communication Advice Centre
  • The Focus Trust
  • Tourism Northern Ireland
  • Traditional Unionist Voice
  • Tullycarnet Community Centre
  • UCU Northern Ireland
  • Ulster Unionist Party
  • Ulster-Scots Community Network
  • Unite The Union
  • University of Atypical
  • USEL
  • Victim Support NI
  • Visual Access (NI) Ltd
  • Volunteer Now
  • WAVE Trauma Centre
  • West Belfast Partnership Board
  • Whiterock Community Centre
  • Windsor Women's Centre
  • Women's Aid Federation N.I.
  • Women's Forum Northern Ireland
  • Women's Resource & Development Agency
  • Women's Support Network
  • Woodvale Community Centre
  • Workers Party
  • Youth Council for Northern Ireland
  • Youth for Christ Northern Ireland
  • Youth Initiatives
  • Youth Justice Agency
  • Youth Link Northern Ireland
  • YouthAction Northern Ireland

Appendix 2: The draft principles and themes for gathering stories

Belfast City Council has developed a Framework for gathering stories in consultation with Lord Cultural Resources and over 50 stakeholders from Belfast. 

Stories will be told in the first person (that is, using words like “I” and “my”). This means that they will keep their distinctive, human and relatable voice, told from a personal point of view rather than by an official or authority. 

Stories can be about the past, present or future.

“I am Belfast” is the voice of a person at the core of the framework.

There are seven themes, each with between 11 to 16 subthemes.

I am Belfast and I am…

Home: A sense of belonging and connection

  1. New beginnings: (renewed start to life, finding a new home in a new place)
  2. Where is home?: (place, where the essence of home is strongest)
  3. Land stories: (generational family stories, stories rooted in land/place)
  4. Leaving home: (reasons for leaving, impacts)
  5. Migration stories: (immigration and emigration, facing a new life)
  6. Border stories: (e.g. Partition of Ireland, living on either side of the Peace Walls)
  7. Finding my place in the world: (what place defines me most, where do I feel most connected)
  8. Family ties: (bonds with family and how it ties to home and place)
  9. My communities: (neighbours, nearby shop vendors, workmates, family)
  10. Is home a place or a feeling?: (feeling of home whether it is a physical space or strong emotional connection)
  11. Belfast neighbourhoods: (places of Belfast that have formed strong connections for people)
  12. Losing your home: (dealing with the loss of home, why it happened, its impacts)
  13. Creating safe spaces: (the need for safe spaces in the city, why it’s important)

Resilient: Strong and spirited

  1. The spirit of Belfast (the fortitude and tenacity of the people)
  2. Healing from conflict and trauma: (explore city efforts for people to heal individually or in groups)
  3. Impacts of the Troubles: (physiological, psychological, logistical)
  4. Shared memories of an event or time: (collective storytelling activities that empower, heal)
  5. Reflecting on the past: (ways to recall and reflect events of the past, recognise individual memories and the present)
  6. Advocacy: (understand, support, and/or activism toward global causes / issues)
  7. Tackling difficult pasts: (provide safe spaces and ease of sharing of difficult past experiences)
  8. Building resilience as a community: (collective growth through shared experiences)
  9. Truth and reconciliation: (speaking truths, acknowledgement and atonement, reconciling with the past)
  10. Looking outward and forward: (focusing on the future with reflection on the past)
  11. Looking at connections with the world’s events: (moving away from the narrative of ‘exceptionalism’)
  12. Using humour in dark times: (ways in which the city uses humour to address dark pasts)
  13. Impacts of religion and class: (how religion and class can shape your life, look at differences / similarities in communities)
  14. Climate resilience in a city: (adopting strategies to build a safer, sustainable city in the face of climate change)

Place: Responding to places

  1. Placemaking: (planning and designing physical and digital spaces that inspire, promote wellness, reflection and connectedness)
  2. Architecture of Belfast: (iconic and quintessential buildings) and built Heritage (tangible cultural heritage, part of human history)
  3. Sights and sounds: (capturing what we see and hear such as church bells, flowing rivers, ship horns etc)
  4. Historic landmarks: (physical spaces that are marked by historic events – engage multiple viewpoints and perceptions)
  5. Geological features: (topography, waterways, rock formations) and human interactions
  6. The river system: (impacts of rivers on life, community, taking care of it)
  7. A Port City: (stories on Belfast as a bustling Harbour)
  8. Changing landscapes: (how landscapes changed over times and through specific historic periods, also changes due to climate)
  9. A Sustainable future: (promoting city living that contributes to a cleaner and healthier planet: repurposing spaces (e.g. creating green spaces, adaptive reuse of derelict spaces)
  10. Climate change impacts: (how climate change has impacted physical spaces)
  11. Places of rendezvous: how specific places of Belfast were / are being used as opportunities for encounters and connections
  12. Inclusive spaces: (spaces that invite equal representation of marginalized groups)
  13. Places of significance: places that are being remembered, perceived and related to, and how this changes over time (ever changing nature of places)
  14. Places of expectations: places associated to specific norms of behaviour and expected / predetermined identities
  15. Places of imagination: exploring individual and collective representations of imagination
  16. Sites of healing: (creating and using physical sites in the city for healing)

Authentic: Embracing all identities

  1. Distinctly Belfast: (things, people, places that are unique to Belfast)
  2. Shifting identities: (as a city, as individuals)
  3. The Many Faces of Belfast: (different identities of the city)
  4. Special values: (values that are important to the people of Belfast, values that best reflect the city)
  5. Identity and belonging: (what shapes who we are and the places we belong to?)
  6. Extraordinary ordinary lives: (nuances and extraordinariness of the everyday lives of people)
  7. Belfast reborn: (aspects of the city reawakening, feeling renewed)
  8. Voices of the city: (capturing distinction through voice)
  9. Roots of language: (similarities among languages, commonalities with other languages, common ancestors)
  10. Crafting a city’s identity through humour, including dark humour: (humour that is unique to Belfast and is part of the city’s identity)
  11. Religion is a part of life: (how religion is an intrinsic part of a city / community)
  12. Activating communities on social change: (supporting activism toward issues that spark social change)
  13. Food and drink in Belfast: (what foods are unique to the city, what is popular, what communities do these foods represent)

Innovative: Entrepreneurial zeal

  1. 17th, 18th and 19th Century industry Powerhouses: (linen, ships, whiskey, ropemaking, paper etc)
  2. The industrial impact: how it impacted / changed Belfast
  3. The shipbuilding era: (explore significance to the city, Titanic)
  4.  A trading and commerce hub: (trading past and present, port city)
  5. The Tech Age in Belfast: (advancements / diversification in health tech, FinTech, new jobs, bringing migrants)
  6. Entrepreneurial spirit: (pioneers, change-makers)
  7. Activating green spaces: (repurposing existing spaces to be more sustainable)
  8. Cultural innovations: (innovative ways the city explores culture through music, theatre, filmmaking etc)
  9. A city transformed: (how Belfast is transforming through innovation)
  10. Belfast and the world: (regional and global perspectives, seeing Belfast from a global viewpoint)
  11. Gastronomic inventions: (what Belfast’s top chefs and eateries are concocting)

Change: A City Transforming

  1. A city in transformation: (explore changes that have led to the city’s transformation from specific to large scale)
  2. Cultural and societal shifts: (over decades) reflecting on regional / global shifts that have changed the city
  3. Forgotten places: (remembering places that no longer have a prominent place due to change)
  4. How we live – what’s changed?: (changes in how we live, what has caused these changes?)
  5. Changing climate: (how is Belfast’s climate different than it used to be?)
  6. Living through and coming out of a pandemic: (impacts, has it changed us? In what ways?)
  7. Embracing diversity and inclusivity: (incorporating inclusiveness and accessibility in the city)
  8. Belfast then and now: (exploring change through time)
  9. Belfast’s community - agents of change: (community is integral to change, bring voice to people’s power)
  10. Remembering historic milestones: (key moments / landmarks in Belfast’s history)
  11. Belfast’s future in the making: (changes we can foresee in Belfast’s future, what do we want to see / prevent)
  12. Stories addressing poverty and the socio economic gap: (is poverty being addressed enough, how can the gap be narrowed?)

Creative: Inspiration in many forms

  1. Belfast’s Street art
  2. Underground music scene: (vibrant dance and music scene)
  3. Music heritage: (city’s musical history, part of the city’s culture, tradition)
  4. Booming film industry: (growing site for film production / development)
  5. Exhibitions and events: (focusing on a large cross section of Belfast culture)
  6. Culture through sport: (football, GAA, rugby and ice hockey are a big part of Belfast)
  7. Photographing Belfast: (seeing the city through photography)
  8. Festivals of song and dance: (events that feature song / dance culture of the city)
  9. Folklore traditions: (traditional stories that are part of the city’s / people’s culture)
  10. Literary figures: (people in Belfast renowned for their literary contributions, past and present)
  11. Visual arts initiatives: (paintings, photography, murals, digital art etc that are part of Belfast’s visual landscape)
  12. Honouring Belfast’s cultural heritage: (tangible and intangible aspects of history and culture)
  13. Belfast through theatre: (how performance art like theatre is part and parcel of the city’s culture / their societal impacts / contributions)
  14. Belfast Epicurean arts: (getting to know a city through its food / drink culture)

The framework is designed to be a flexible, helping to gather, sort and celebrate a wealth of Belfast stories without being constraining them. Stories may fit under more than one theme. If stories do not fit under a particular subtheme, a new one can be created. 

The themes are underpinned by five principles.


  1. Equality and inclusiveness
  2. Increased accessibility and co-creation
  3. Pressure free
  4. Respect
  5. People centred

Stories will be mostly Belfast-focused, but they will have common threads that will show how Belfast connects with global history and current affairs (such as Black Lives Matter, climate change or #MeToo).

Appendix 3: Belfast's population by Section 75 dimension

Religious belief

On Census Day 2011, 49 per cent of Belfast City Council’s usual residents were from a Catholic community background compared with 42 per cent from a Protestant or other Christian related background.

Political opinion

In the last local government election held on 2 May 2019, 28.2 per cent of first preference votes were cast for Sinn Féin; 21.6 per cent for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP); 15.7 per cent for the Alliance Party; 9.1 per cent for the Social, Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP); 6.2 per cent for the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP); 6.0 per cent for the Green Party; 5.2 per cent for the People before Profit Alliance; and 3.1 per cent for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). A total of 60 councillors were elected to Belfast City Council. The table below provides an overview of the number of councillors by each political party.

Political Party Number of councillors elected
Sinn Féin 18
Democratic Unionist Party 15
Alliance Party 10
Social Democratic and Labour Party 6
Green Party 4
People before Profit Alliance 3
Ulster Unionist Party 2
Progressive Unionist Party 2

Ethnic Group       

Country of birth statistics taken from the last census in 2011 show that 6.55 per cent of all usual residents were born outside the UK and Ireland. Almost a third of this group (2.1 per cent of all residents) were born in the Middle East and Asia.

The 2011 census also found that 95 per cent of Belfast’s population (aged 3 years and over) have English as their main language; 1.4 per cent state “other” as their main language; and 1.2 per cent have Polish as their main language. 


Based on the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency’s mid-year population estimates for 2020, the age profile of Belfast is similar to that of the wider region. Almost one in five residents (19.9 per cent) are aged under 16, slightly lower than the Northern Ireland average (20.9 per cent). The working age population (aged 16 to 64 years) make up two-thirds (65.1 per cent) of all Belfast residents. Older people (aged 65 and over) currently account for 15.0 per cent of the Belfast population.

The population aged 65 and over is projected to increase by 74.4 per cent to 498,500 people from mid-2014 to mid-2039, with the result that one in four people (24.7 per cent) will be in this age category.

Marital status

According to the 2011 census, just over one third (35.6 per cent) of all usual residents in Belfast (aged 16+) are married – a relatively low proportion when compared with the Northern Ireland average (47.6 per cent). Belfast has a higher percentage (45.3 per cent) of residents who are single when compared with the Northern Ireland average (36.1 per cent). There is also a higher-than-average proportion of people in Belfast who are separated (5.4 per cent compared to 4 per cent NI average) and divorced (6.2 per cent to 5.5 per cent NI average). Belfast also has 353 residents (0.1 per cent) who are in a registered same-sex civil partnership, almost a third of all such partnerships in Northern Ireland.

Sexual orientation   

Several UK- and NI-based studies have attempted to quantify the number of people who identify as LGBTQ+. Estimates for the LGBTQ+ population range from 0.3 to 10 per cent using different sources. A commonly used estimate of LGBTQ+ people in the UK, accepted by Stonewall UK, is approximately 5 to 7 per cent of the population.

Men and women generally        

According to the 2011 census, Belfast has a higher female population (52 per cent of all residents), slightly higher than the Northern Ireland average of 51 per cent. The difference is largest in the over 65 population where 59.3 per cent of all residents are female.


Census figures show that almost one quarter (23 per cent) of Belfast residents have a long-term health problem or disability which affects their day-to-day activities. This is a higher proportion than the Northern Ireland average (20.1 per cent). Over one-third of Belfast residents reported that they had a long-term condition (defined as a condition which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months). The most common conditions were mobility or dexterity difficulty (39 per cent of all those affected), pain or discomfort (34 per cent), shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (31 per cent) and emotional, psychological or mental health condition (23 per cent).

2.02 per cent or 6,729 Belfast residents are blind or have partial sight loss.


According to the 2011 Census, 30.4 per cent of households in Belfast include dependent children compared with the NI average of 36.5 per cent. 11.0 per cent of households consist of a lone parent and a dependent child or children, compared with the NI average of 8.1 per cent. Lone parents are considered at greater risk of economic disadvantage than other household types with an estimated 39 per cent of people living in a lone parent household living in relative poverty. Over 94 per cent of lone parents in Belfast are female.

11.8 per cent of Belfast residents provide unpaid care for a dependant adult, slightly higher than the NI average of 11.0 per cent.

Appendix 4: Consultees engaged to date

Attended workshops or meetings during development of the Framework for gathering stories

  1. National Museums NI
  2. Golden Thread Gallery
  3. Prison Memory Archive
  4. Belfast Exposed
  5. NI Digital Archive
  6. Tourism NI
  7. Tinderbox Theatre
  8. TourGuides NI
  9. Nerve Centre
  10. Linenhall Library
  11. Libraries NI
  12. QUB
  13. Visit West Belfast
  14. Tourism Ireland
  15. Ulster University
  16. Visit Belfast
  17. Thrive
  18. Kabosh Theatre
  19. Maritime Trust
  20. EastSide Partnership
  21. CQ Trust
  22. NI Screen
  23. PRONI
  24. Fighting Words
  25. Arts Council NI
  26. Heritage Lottery Fund
  27. NI Good Food
  28. Cinemagic

​Other presentations and meetings

  1. Queen's Film Theatre
  2. National Museums NI
  3. NI Screen
  4. Department for Communities
  5. Tourism NI
  6. Department for the Economy
  7. Ulster University
  8. BID ONE
  9. NI Libraries
  10. Destination CQ
  11. CastleCourt Complex
  12. NI Connections
  13. Belfast Metropolitan College
  14. Translink
  15. HSCNI
  16. Linen Quarter BID
  17. St Anne's Cathedral
  18. Visit Belfast
  19. CQ Trust Board
  20. Belfast Charitable Society
  21. Heritage Lottery Fund
  22. Belfast Civic Trust
  23. Ashton Centre
  24. NI Tourism Alliance
  25. Social Enterprise NI
  26. NI Community Relations Council
  27. Hospitality Ulster
  28. Strand Arts Centre
  29. Belfast City Centre Management
  30. North Belfast Heritage Cluster
  31. Markets Development Association
  32. EastSide Partnership
  33. Carrick Hill Residents Associations
  34. South Belfast Partnership / Forward South
  35. Arts Council NI
  36. The Oh Yeah Music centre
  37. Titanic Distillery
  38. Maritime Belfast
  39. The British Council
  40. Ulster Architectural Heritage Group
  41. Greater Shankill Area Partnership
  42. Belfast Hills Partnership
  43. Arts and Business
  44. Visit West Belfast
  45. Smithfield and Union representatives
  46. St Patrick’s Church
  47. Belfast Harbour
  48. Urban Villages
  49. Brown’s Square
  50. Sailortown Regeneration
  51. Belfast City Council internal staff networks: Proud / Able / Women’s Network
  52. East Belfast community Development Agency
  53. Greater Belfast Senior's Forum
  54. Historic Environment Division
  55. BCC Youth Forum
  56. University of the Atypical
  57. Sign Language Users Forum
  58. Healthy North Belfast
  59. Belfast Charitable Society