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High demand for peacebuilding and employment courses in Twaddell-Woodvale area

on .

TWRA Web

Community demand for courses linked to peacebuilding and employment at a North Belfast interface is at an unprecedented high, according to an International Fund for Ireland pilot project.

Last year, the Twaddell Woodvale Residents A

ssociation gained £68,749 of support from the funder to develop a 10-month initiative that has enabled more than 300 people in the area to access a wide range of training and learning programmes.

For the last year, the Peace Impact Project has operated adjacent to, but is not aligned with, the Twaddell Protest Camp. The project has established new links with statutory authorities and rebuilt confidence and capacity among residents with the aim of stimulating positive transformation the area.

Its success has encouraged the Fund to recommit additional resources to extend and expand the work of the project for a further 12-months.

Speaking at a project showcase event Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said:
“This is one of the most contentious and complex areas of Northern Ireland, but in 10 months this project has achieved a significant amount of progress, particularly with young people who were at risk of getting caught up in interface violence. Community appetite for a project like this has never been greater. We are pleased to extend our support so that more peacebuilding and employability activities can take place in the year ahead.

“Before this project started, all meaningful cross-community work had ceased and cohesion was evaporating. There were very few community development activities and, as the neighbourhood became stigmatised, some agencies were disengaging. Now residents are driving a resurgence and securing positive and sustainable changes in their area. That’s good news for everyone.”

Colin Anderson Chairman of Twaddell Woodvale Residents Association said:
“There are unique challenges in this area that will take time to unlock, but it’s important that the community has opportunities to develop and transform. This project is supporting residents to take part in honest and open conversations about difficult community issues and giving people access to skills that can change lives for the better.

“Many of the courses delivered in our first phase were oversubscribed and we expect interest to be high again in the year ahead. This is a proud community that has been unfairly labelled because of circumstances beyond our control. Projects like ours are assisting residents to address negative perceptions and reconnect with statutory authorities. Confidence is returning and there is a sense that we are beginning to collectively turn a corner.”

In February 2016, the International Fund for Ireland awarded Twaddell Woodvale Residents Association £109,857 to continue the Peace Impact Project for 12 months with an emphasis on training and employment and conflict transformation.

Twaddell Woodvale Residents Association is a registered charity established in 1992 and works to promote all residents of the Twaddell and Upper Woodvale area and its environs by co-operating with the statutory authorities, voluntary and community organisations and residents.