30/05/2007

Ritchie says regeneration is 'more than bricks and mortar'

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie MLA has urged communities in North Belfast to grasp the opportunity to create a legacy of community renewal from EU funded initiatives.

The Minister was speaking at a celebration event to showcase the collaborative work of three strategic initiatives to improve ICT skills and resources, accessible transport and provision of youth services in North Belfast.

The initiatives implemented by North Belfast Partnership with funding from the EU Urban II Programme are being delivered through six Community Empowerment Partnerships (CEPs).

Key speaker, Ms Ritchie called upon the community sector to maintain focus on the important task of rebuilding communities in North Belfast. The Minister said: “Regeneration is not just about bricks and mortar. It is about local communities and government working collaboratively to bring about real and lasting change.”

Over a hundred people took part in the event, which included interactive workshops on the three initiatives and was followed by a programme of fun recreational activities for young people from across North Belfast. These activities included a soccer tournament and sessions in creative music and radio production.

Murdo Murray, Chief Executive of North Belfast Partnership said: “Today’s celebration highlights the commitment of the people of inner North Belfast to work together within and across communities and collaboratively with government to make a serious and sustained effort to improve the overall living standards of the poorest within North Belfast.”

Urban II represents a £12.4 million investment for regenerating disadvantaged areas within inner North Belfast including £1.14m investment in collaborative projects in community transport, ICT literacy and youth service provision. These are helping to alleviate serious problems such as access to employment, ICT resources and skills, as well as provision of services for young people who make up a quarter of North Belfast’s population.

(JM/KMcA)

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