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North Belfast groups to come together to address divisive interface issues

Published on:  30 Jun 2014

Community groups in North Belfast today revealed details of an ambitious project, backed by the International Fund for Ireland, aimed at addressing some of the most sensitive interface-related issues.

The 17-month collaborative effort will see groups in the predominantly Nationalist Ardoyne area collaborate with those in the largely Unionist Glenbyrn area to engage women and young people in activities that focus on improving employability, community development and everyday living.

 

Historically there has been significant unrest at the interface and the cross-community PIP Project, led by Grace Women’s Development Limited, will open new discussions on complex issues relating to identity and the conflict. It will also seek to provide practical training and support for young people who may be at risk of engaging in antisocial or unlawful behaviour.

International Fund for Ireland Board Member, Billy Gamble, said:

“The groups involved in this project know the scale of the challenges ahead, but are stepping up with a brave and ambitious plan to help reduce tensions and unrest. For too long women and young people paid the high price for the division in this area and even though it suffered considerably during the conflict, it has seen little of the dividends of peace.

“This project is about opening new options for the communities to take a collective step forward by addressing divisive issues head on providing practical training that enhances both community leadership and employability.  This Project offers a new opportunity for those willing to take a risk for peace and can have a significant stabilising effect on the area.”

Grace PIP Project Co-ordinator, Mary Ellen Campbell, said:

“The financial support we have received from the International Fund for Ireland represents a huge step forward in cross-community relations in an area where young people and women who have felt marginalised and have had no previous involvement in cross community work or community development. This project will help us tackle the hard issues facing them by giving them a voice, supporting inclusion and building confidence and at the same time will greatly contribute to personal transformation, community transformation and enterprise transformation.”

The Grace PIP Project will operate across two cross-community strands focused on women and young people in particular. Up to 10 women from each community will take part in a four-stage programme that includes an OCN accredited qualification. Up to 40 young people will complete practical training to improve employment options and collaborate with the women to complete a piece of research on local needs in both communities.

The initiative is received £67,974 through the International Fund for Ireland’s Peace Impact Programme (PIP) which has been successful in addressing sensitive and challenging issues in areas where peace building activities have traditionally been limited.

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