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Belfast unites with global family to plot path through pandemic

Date: 17 Sep 2020

A global team of Friends of Belfast will field for the city at the seventh annual Homecoming next month to help the city through the Covid crisis.

Uniting virtually under the theme ‘We are Team Belfast’ will be champions of commerce, culture and community from four continents.

For the first time, the conference will also salute exceptional individuals from other places who have made Belfast their home, including leading burns consultant Mr Khalid Khan, Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma and South African Presbyterian Minister Brent van der Linde.

The two-day conference traditionally connects Belfast with its diaspora around the world, and this year it will call on its diaspora to back the city, as it rebuilds from the effects of Covid-19.

Seventy speakers will participate in the conference including:

  • Betty Yee, California State Controller
  • Eilis Ferran, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Cambridge University
  • Christine Quinn, Chief Executive, WIN homeless charity, New York
  • Keith Nealon, Chief Executive, Bazaarvoice, Austin, Texas
  • Marty Meehan, President, University of Massachusetts

Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Alderman Frank McCoubrey said:

“Given the importance of our diaspora to the city’s international profile, I am delighted that Council is supporting The Homecoming conference once again this year. Events like this are extremely important in helping to maintain our longstanding friendships and helping to foster new ones.

“Despite the global difficulties resulting from the pandemic, Belfast remains very much open for business and Team Belfast is determined to continue to build on our growing reputation as an attractive location for people to study, visit, invest and trade.

“The last six months have been challenging for everyone but I believe that we have risen to the challenge as a city and our response has demonstrated our resilience and ‘can do’ attitude. I hope that these positive messages are echoed far and wide by the international participants taking part in this year’s event.”

Seamus Cushley, Vice-President of R&D and Site Lead, Bazaarvoice in Belfast said:

“Bazaarvoice is proud to be the headline sponsor of this year’s Belfast International Homecoming. While we are a global company, Bazaarvoice is putting down deep roots in Belfast’s growing tech industry and we want to showcase Northern Ireland as a great place to live and work.

“As we play our part in growing the knowledge economy and developing skills here, we believe it is important to support events like The Homecoming, which are focused on the future and determined to bring a message of positivity and optimism in these unusual times.”

Jackie Henry, Senior Partner at Deloitte UK said:

“Before this crisis, Belfast had come a long way. That was down to our people, our ambition and our work ethic. Our diaspora links played a big role in that too and we need those links now more than ever.

“For the past six months, we have all been isolated, trying to comprehend the full impact of this pandemic and focusing on keeping our businesses going during this crisis.

“Belfast Homecoming provides a unique opportunity for businesspeople to look outside of their own organisations, forge meaningful links with others, and help make positive and long-lasting changes in our economy and society.”

As well as a series of discussions about rebuilding, Homecoming will also showcase ten of Belfast’s inspirational leaders who pivoted through the pandemic and created innovative ways of moving the community forward in a time of uncertainty. 

Belfast Homecoming is sponsored by Bazaarvoice, The Open University, Deloitte, Northern Irish Connections, MPR, Tourism Ireland, The Dead Rabbit, Tourism NI, Neueda, Belfast City Council, Datactics, IBO New York, and Belfast Harbour. Organisers have chosen The Community Foundation as the charity partner for this year’s conference.

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