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Clonduff Cregagh Transition Group.

on .

Clonduff Cregagh Transition GroupClonduff and Cregagh are two large, mainly Protestant, housing estates in East Belfast, both previously subject to Loyalist paramilitary influence but each historically linked to different and opposed Loyalist groupings. Both communities faced similar issues and yet prior to joining the Communities in Transition Programme 2 neither had formally worked with each other.

In 2008 the programme brought the two estates together in partnership for the first time to establish the Clonduff

Cregagh Transition Group (CCTG). With the support of the programme the group explored the issues they faced and they gradually built trust and understanding and a framework for future plans and activity.

The priority was to work with young people aged 16 and over whose relationships reflected the influences of the past. These young people were on the margins of crime and anti-social behaviour rather than enjoying the benefits of mainstream youth provision.

The work began with both communities developing football teams which met twice weekly for two years to train and play together. As well as building bridges between the communities, football was also used to reach out to others beyond the estates. In unprecedented moves, games were played with minority ethnic groups and the teams travelled to Dublin with many of the young people and adult volunteers crossing the border for the first time.

The group also works with older people arranging stew and soup days, day trips and Christmas lunches to which everyone is invited. They have also set up very successful parent and toddler groups in both areas and run weekly youth club events for younger teenagers which are attended by people from both communities.

Marlene Dodds, Committee Member of CCTG, says: “The programme gave us the structure and support we needed to be able to develop plans for our two communities. People have seen the difference our efforts are making and now want to get involved, and crucially the young people we initially recruited into the football have  grown up and moved on to local bigger clubs together as friends and not on opposing sides.”

Other achievements include transforming the July bonfires into community celebrations which in the first year resulted in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Housing Executive recording a 75% drop in call outs and anti-social behaviour reports around that time. The group has also engaged with the Crossing the Bridges Programme and supported local women from both communities to take part in a year-long peace and reconciliation project with a Catholic community and a community from across the border.

Now, as they look beyond the life of the programme, the group are working to secure their future work in both areas while two members of the partnership are currently studying community development at university and will finish their degrees next year.