The Redburn and Loughview area of Holywood has been chosen as one of 30 neighbourhoods to share in a £1 million funding initiative launched last week.
The Shared Neighbourhood Project, which aims to support and encourage shared neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland, was launched by Denis Rooney, chairman of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), who co-finance the project, and Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie in August 2008.
Last week’s launch took place in Redburn and Loughview.
Julia Harkness, a community worker from the area, said that the Northern Ireland Housing Executive had approached the Redburn/Loughview Community Forum to participate in the programme. Each area will receive an initial £8,000 in funding.
A spokesman for the NI Housing Executive said the group would receive more funding during the three-year life of the initiative.
“The Housing Executive’s Shared Neighbourhood Programme is a three-year programme aimed at supporting and encouraging shared neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Each of the designated shared neighbourhoods will receive £8,000 specifically to support local community events that will help to promote diversity and good relations.
“As the programme proceeds, each neighbourhood will identify different needs, and support for these needs will be funded from the programme.
“It is expected that the total cost of the programme will be almost £1m, of which the International Fund for Ireland is providing almost £700,000.”
Organised by Redburn/Loughview Community Forum and supported by North Down Borough Council’s Good Relations Unit, last week’s event highlighted the work being carried out through participation in the Shared Neighbourhood Programme. This includes access to grants to celebrate diversity and bringing together people, from all backgrounds, who live in these areas.
Participants also benefit from community relations training, community consultations and support to design their own Neighbourhood Charter and deliver their own Good Relations Programme. Practical on-the-ground support is also provided by the Housing Executive through a dedicated team of Cohesion Advisers.
Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said it was “enriching” to visit Redburn and Loughview and meet with a community committed to securing a shared future for their children.
“More people than ever before are saying that they want to live in a neighbourhood where diversity is welcomed,” Ms Ritchie said.
“Without neighbourhoods like the eleven launched today, this would remain an aspiration only.”
Denis Rooney said the programme was special in that it focuses on the “strengths, successes and lessons learnt by such communities who already quietly working away to bring about change and to build shared neighbourhoods where everyone is accepted and respected”.
Julia Harkness said Redburn and Loughview had broken new ground in community relations and was leading the way in a joint quest for a vibrant civic society.
“We have all agreed to build on and appreciate the peace we have already achieved, by making a commitment to sustain this work through continued development of environmental, social, and art programmes,” she said.
“A joined-up approach is essential so we invite all community groups, individuals, school, churches, parents, agencies, funders and other shared neighbourhoods to become involved and engage with us so that we invest in a future we all appreciate, value and our proud of.”
Redburn/Loughview Community Forum has been at the forefront of community initiatives by North Down Borough Council for eight years.
Established in 2001, it is an umbrella organisation for groups working in the area, such as the Department of Regional Development, PSNI, the Housing Executive, Arts and Regeneration, North Down Borough Council, playgroup, parents & toddlers, over 55’s and youth groups.