04/03/2011

'Sharing Neighbourhoods' Praised

Two west Belfast communities have been praised for their integration strategy.

The SDLP Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has commended the mainly nationalist Springfield Road and the strongly loyalist Woodvale communities for their efforts to drive forward a successful shared neighbourhood.

A consultation exercise was initially carried out by the NI Housing Executive on behalf of Forthspring Inter Community Group.

This was part of the work undertaken in the area under the Shared Neighbourhood Programme with over three-quarters (76%) of respondents saying they would be in favour of local primary schools sharing out of school hour's clubs.

Minister Attwood (pictured) said: "It inspires hope when a community such as Forthspring comes together to focus on a common future.

"I launched Phase III of the Shared Neighbourhood Programme here in September 2010 and I recorded my commitment to creating neighbourhoods where community services are shared and accessible to everyone.

"Five months on Forthspring has again risen to the hopes of a shared neighbourhood with the majority of those surveyed in favour of sharing resources such as out-of-school hours clubs and shared school programmes and utilising shared space in the Woodvale and Springfield area for the benefit of both communities," he said.
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"It is these aspirations that will help create the communities of the future. Of course there will still be difficulties to overcome.

"However, the residents of Woodvale and Springfield Road are to be commended for leading the way towards a shared society and for their willingness to take risks to shape a future different form the past."

Maura Moore, Director of Forthspring Inter Community Group said: "Being part of the Shared Neighbourhood Programme is an excellent opportunity for Forthspring to consolidate our work and programmes with both communities on a shared site, thus strengthening the future position of Forthspring.

"We look forward to working with the Housing Executive's Community Cohesion Team in this important time of transition."

Dr Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said: "The Shared Neighbourhood Programme provides a practical way for communities to move from just co-existence towards real integration.

"While Northern Ireland has made tremendous progress towards becoming a more positive, peaceful and stable society, we have to face the reality that some communities still remain segregated.

"The Fund remains committed to supporting initiatives, such as the Shared Neighbourhood Programme, which have the potential to deliver and sustain positive impacts within and between local communities long after the Fund ceases to exist."

(BMcC/GK)

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