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Date: 12 Oct 2022
Category: Peace IV
Over 50 residents have completed a PEACE IV volunteer training programme along the Forth Meadow Community Greenway.
The greenway is a new £5.1 million EU PEACE IV-funded project to connect existing open spaces in north and west Belfast along a 12km route leading to the new Transport Hub in the city centre.
The programme was part of Belfast’s PEACE IV Action Plan which is financed through the European Union and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding for the Action Plan has been provided by The Executive Office and the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Sustrans, Volunteer Now and The Conservation Volunteers delivered four projects on behalf of the council, recruiting local people from along Forth Meadow Community Greenway, to train as volunteer cycle/walk leads, local ambassadors and nature guides.
Representatives joined Lord Mayor, Councillor Tina Black, and Councillor John Kyle, Chair of the council’s Shared City Partnership at a special event in Farset International Hotel, Springfield Road, on Saturday (8 October), to celebrate the achievements of the volunteers on the programme.
Speaking at the event, the Lord Mayor said: “I’m so impressed with the work and dedication of Sustrans, Volunteer Now and The Conservation Volunteers, in delivering this project, and with the 52 local people who were involved in the programme.
“The participants can now use the skills learned to be great ambassadors of Forth Meadow Community Greenway, leading on cycles and nature walks, and providing support at events and activities along the greenway, not just in their own local communities, but in communities along the whole greenway.
“Through PEACE IV- supported shared spaces projects, the aim is to encourage residents to make better use of our parks and open spaces, building positive relations between communities. This also supports the city’s community plan, the Belfast Agenda, which includes aspirations to regenerate neighbourhoods, improve community relations and create a safe and welcoming city for everyone.”
Councillor John Kyle, Chair of the Shared City Partnership, added: “The aim of the Forth Meadow Community Greenway Volunteer Training project was to help promote connections between existing communities, reduce isolation, division or prejudice between new and host communities and to increase engagement of marginalised communities to take part in peace-building conflict transformation activities for the long-term benefit of the city.
“All the volunteers helped to promote peace-building, build positive cross-community relationships and encourage travel into new areas with new people. Congratulations to them all on completion of the programme.”
Over the last 18 months, Sustrans managed and delivered two projects, recruiting and training over 30 volunteer Walk and Cycle Leaders.
The Conservation Volunteers managed and delivered the Nature Guides project, providing environmental knowledge and learning to the community within the vicinity of, and, visitors to Forth Meadow Community Greenway.
Volunteer Now recruited and trained a team of Volunteer Ambassadors for the greenway.
Denise Hayward, Chief Executive of Volunteer Now, said: "Volunteers are key to bringing these community spaces to life and ensuring the longer-term sustainability and community partnership in the greenway and the Springfield Dam. Local people really make the difference to enable these places to be used and cared for into the future."