A project to reduce tensions at one of Belfast’s interface areas has been judged to be a success by an independent review an event heard today. (Friday 2 December 2011)
An independent evaluation of the two year Forthspring Good Relations Project was revealed at an event on the Springfield Road in West Belfast.
The review looked at the Project’s achievements including the setting up of a new Men’s Group and Community Garden; the establishment of a very successful cross-community Summer Festival; and the publication of the story of Forthspring and related good relations causes.
The evaluation found that the Project has contributed to a gradual improvement in relationships across the interface and that as a result, there had been a reduction in tension around contentious parades.
The evaluation also:
• highlighted the positive impact the Project has had on almost 1,000 local people in various good relations activities since it was launched in 2009;
• described how Forthspring has pioneered an effective door to door consultation with local residents on the interface to gather their views on community relations, community safety and the possibility of the removal of peace walls; and
• described how Forthspring has developed an innovative approach to community planning that engages people from both sides of the interface in developing a shared vision and planning for the future together.
For two years the Project has concentrated on four areas of activity: developing the leadership skills of local people and consulting with them regarding the removal of the peace wall; sharing the experience, expertise and learning of Forthspring Inter Community Group’s ten years of peace building with other interface communities through training and mentoring; ensuring more men are involved as leaders and mentors in the work towards a shared future at community level; and providing specialised non-violence training to help contribute towards a more peaceful society.
The Project was made possible through funding of £225,935 from the International Fund for Ireland as well as additional funding from the Community Relations Council and Belfast City Council.
Anne Henderson, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland said: "The Fund is delighted to have supported this Project and as we heard today its success is in no doubt. The Project has helped local people to develop a greater understanding of each other and helped to develop and grow a greater sense of a shared identity. In time, we hope this will lead to a shared future for the entire local community.
"Forthspring Inter Community Group’s pioneering work not only benefits the community living on this interface but crucially the Group is sharing its experience and learnings with others living in similar circumstances. The launch today of the new publication ‘A Parable of Possibilities: The Forthspring Story’ will help to bring their expertise to others and inspire them to make the progress and reach new milestones on the road to a genuinely shared future."
Maura Moore, Director of Forthspring said: "We acknowledge not just the financial support from the Fund but also the support we received from the Fund’s staff. Forthspring is optimistic about the future. People want a future free from division and fear. Considerable resources and expertise have been developed in interface communities to manage and reduce conflict. Resources now need to be committed to moving beyond conflict management to conflict transformation, to developing shared space and promoting sharing over segregation."
Today’s event also saw the launch of ‘A Parable of Possibilities: The Forthspring Story’ - a book that charts the story of Forthspring and its work over the last ten years to build understanding between the two main communities on the volatile interface and the success it has had in building community relations and working towards peace and reconciliation.
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.
International Fund for Ireland
28-32 Alfred St.
+44 (0)28 9031 2884