Bogside Brandywell Initiative

The key to any attempts to dismantle or change interface barriers is getting the agreement of the people who live in their shadow. Kyle Thompson, the Peace Walls worker employed by the Bogside Brandywell Initiative Peace Walls Project in Londonderry/Derry says: “People don't want solutions parachuted down onto them. They will simply not engage with such a process. Our success has been the building of relationships and friendships between traditionally opposing communities in the city.
  • Johnny Byrne from Ulster University with Rab McCallum from TASCIT project alongside Donna McCloskey from Bogside Brandywell Initiative and Dr Adrian Johnston Chairman of the Fund.
    Part of the historic Derry Wall is beside Peace Wall projects which the Fund works with.
    Participants at an event organised by Bogside Brandywell Initiative.

  • Click on the Google street view button to view and navigate 360 degree images of the Peace Walls in this project.

“It has now reached the stage that a lot of the people we initially engaged with are now going out off their own bat and meeting up with those from the opposite community. That is a sea-change in attitudes.”

That different attitude is reflected in how residents described one interface barrier. They now see it as a way of protecting them from anti-social behaviour rather than from attack by the opposing community.

The change in attitudes have been achieved through intensive inter and cross-community discussions and development of projects such as six community allotments in the Fountain area, setting up an older people's group – OWLs – which has 20 members, training courses and involvement of local people in community issues.
Johnny Byrne from Ulster University with Rab McCallum from TASCIT project alongside Donna McCloskey from Bogside Brandywell Initiative and Dr Adrian Johnston Chairman of the Fund
Johnny Byrne from Ulster University with Rab McCallum from TASCIT project alongside Donna McCloskey from Bogside Brandywell Initiative and Dr Adrian Johnston Chairman of the Fund
Part of the historic Derry Wall is beside Peace Wall projects which the Fund works with
Part of the historic Derry Wall is beside Peace Wall projects which the Fund works with
Participants at an event organised by Bogside Brandywell Initiative
Participants at an event organised by Bogside Brandywell Initiative
The Winter Festival held in December for the third year brings together people from both communities in the city. A giant marquee is erected housing craft objects made by local people. Those working in Peace Wall groups in other areas of the province are regular guests at the festival which enables them to discuss overall progress in dismantling barriers.

The Spring Festival which takes in the gardening and allotment projects in the area is also an opportunity to get groups to talk about unused community spaces and also raise funds by selling home grown produce. 

Even the training courses take an innovative twist to help change attitudes. People are placed in employment in areas outside their own to expose them to different influences and broaden their views. Other courses include literacy and numeracy, CV building and presentation and aids to employability.

Further initiatives include Irish classes, a cross-community craft group which meets weekly and a cross-community Men's Shed group.

Kyle’s colleague Rachel Mullan-Carlin says: “We don't do anything that the target communities don't agree with. They have to be on board otherwise the initiative is doomed to failure. 

“We try to show them how things can be changed for the better. We use 3D visioning tools and other information systems to display how barriers can be softened by painting or changes to the surrounding areas but ultimately it is up to them what will happen.”

Local community groups also engage with statutory agencies and government departments to discuss how plans will impact their areas. One example was the community opposition to plans to redevelop a factory on the interface into apartments. People from both sides of the community joined in the protests.

Kyle admits there are people living along the interfaces in Londonderry-Derry who don't want change. “They are afraid of change. Our role is to gain their trust by emphasising that nothing will be done without their approval. We can see how trust between the communities is developing but we are always aware that events outside the area can impact on the interface and harden attitudes.”

Contacts for this project:

International Fund for Ireland

Seatem House
28-32 Alfred Street
Belfast
BT2 8EN

Tel: +44 (0)28 9031 2884    

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For further information about our funding programmes, or for information on how to apply for funding, please contact the person(s) or organisation(s) identifed at the end of the relevant programme summary in the areas of activity section.

Belfast Office

International Fund for Ireland
Seatem House
28-32 Alfred St.
Belfast
BT2 8EN

+44 (0)28 9031 2884

Dublin Office

PO Box 2000
Dublin 2

+353 1 408 2130


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