Mayor of Derry Maurice Devenney and Dr. Adrian Johnston, chairman, International Fund for Ireland, cutting the tape to officially open the new Shared Future Centre in Derry/Londonderry. Included, from left, are Right Rev. Dr. James Mehaffey, retired Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and chairman, Inner City Trust, Junior Ministers Martina Anderson and Jonathan Bell, Pat Walsh, chairman, Waterside Development Trust, and Helen Quigley, Inner City Trust.
A new state-of-the-art cross-community facility designed to promote reconciliation was officially launched today (Friday 30th March) at Cityview Park, Derry/Londonderry.
The three-story 15,000 square foot Shared Future Centre is located at the interface between the mainly Nationalist Top of the Hill community and the mainly Unionist Irish Street community. It will give access to training services and employment opportunities to both communities as well as engendering physical and economic regeneration in an area of high unemployment.
The Centre first opened its doors in January 2012 and already enjoys 80% occupancy with a diverse range of tenants including: Derry City Council Good Relations and Sports Development Departments; Foyle Downs Syndrome Trust; Waterside Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership and Customized Training Services.
The Waterside Development Trust and its city based sister organisation, the Inner City Trust, provided £1m of funding towards the project. The balance of £602, 420 was provided by the International Fund for Ireland.
Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said: "The Fund’s investment is designed to provide the opportunity for people to come together in a shared space which nurtures respect, encourages openness and breaks down physical and mental barriers so that they can move forward with shared purpose and understanding.
It brings together the key components of employment, job creation and cross-community collaboration. As I understand it these are three very important ingredients in the peace making process and, in the long term, will ensure sustainability. Only then will we see real and lasting change in the community that will benefit both the current and future generations."
Speaking at the official opening The Right Reverend Dr James Mehaffey, retired church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and Chairman of the Inner City Trust compared the Shared Future Centre to the recently constructed Peace Bridge when he said: “We see the Peace Bridge, the greatest physical change the City has seen in decades. It is more, much more than just a bridge. Like this building, it is shared space, bringing people together, narrowing the divide that has traditionally been Cityside / Waterside, Catholic / Protestant – Us and Them. It is my hope that, like the Peace Bridge, this Centre will become a unifying force, a physical structure that yields social and economic benefits for the local community."
Mr Pat Walsh, Chairman of the Waterside Development Trust said “Ten years ago Waterside Development Trust opened Glendermott Valley Business Park, which is also located in an interface area. At the time some said whilst they admired our optimism they didn’t hold much hope for the success of the project. But we had a vision and were prepared to take the risk – in partnership of course with the local community. That risk has paid real dividends and broke new ground in cross community reconciliation. Today this building represents another step in this City’s journey towards that vision”.
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