Date: 17 Jan 2023
Residents from different cultures and communities in the city joined together at a special event in City Hall this week to celebrate the council’s PEACE IV ‘Supporting Connected Communities’ projects.
Among these were members of the Roma and Traveller communities and new residents from emerging communities who had had taken part in the LINCS (Local Initiative for Networks, Connections and Support) project. All three projects – Traveller Support, Roma Support and LINCS project - provided support and assistance to minority communities or diverse and newcomer communities helping to integrate and build positive relationships with existing communities in the city.
The EU-funded PEACE IV programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) with over £14 million invested in the council’s Belfast PEACE IV Local Action Plan to support peace and reconciliation in the city under three themes – building positive relations, shared spaces and services and children and young people projects.
The projects represented at the event were delivered by external partners - Forward South Partnership, the Heart Project, Falls Women’s Association, Family Ulster and NI Alternatives.
Forward South Partnership helped facilitate a Roma Support Hub at University Street hosting a range of activities for the Roma community in the city including craft workshops and English classes.
While the PEACE IV Traveller Support project, delivered by council in partnership with Family Ulster genealogy services, the Heart Project, and Falls Women’s Centre, brought together people of all ages and backgrounds from the Traveller and settled communities in the city to create connections.
The project included health and wellbeing workshops, working on a genealogy exhibition which was on display at City Hall yesterday as well as community events in the city including an Easter Family Fun Day at Whiterock Leisure Centre, a ‘Circus Comes to Town’ event at Olympia Leisure Centre and a Vintage Tea Dance at 2 Royal Avenue in the city centre.
Speaking at the event, Councillor John Kyle, chair of the council’s Shared City Partnership, praised the commitment and efforts of the participants and the partners on delivering the projects.
“Recent research undertaken by our good relations team highlighted the many challenges facing our minority communities in the city which included racism, isolation, poverty and integration,” he said.
“It is through projects like LINCS, the Traveller Support and Roma Support projects that we can help address some of these issues.
“Good relations is central to achieving our vision of a shared city requiring us all to work together and make it happen.
“It is hoped that the learnings and discussions that have taken place throughout these wonderful projects will encourage other communities, organisations and individuals to realise that by working together we can shape and influence how we look at our communities and plan for their future.
“I want to thank all of the participants for joining the projects – we admire your courage in stepping up and getting involved in celebrating cultural diversity and building positive relations in our city.”
For more information on the projects, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/PEACEIV
Match-funding for the PEACE IV programme has also been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.