Residents in Ballynafeigh are in the midst of celebrating life in their community in one of the largest locally based events on record.
The fourth annual shared neighbourhood week, that began last Thursday (September 16), has spilled over its time frame to run 10 days , ensuring the 24 diverse community events planned, can take place.
Philip Whyte, a co-ordinator at Ballynafeigh Community Development Association, based in Community House, played a key role in organising the programme. He said: “We had over 200 people attend the first event , a family fun evening, and a steady stream at the variety of activities throughout the week.
“The Community House recognises the commitment of local residents to the building and upkeep of an area which has remained physically mixed over the last 100 years.
“The week celebrates the history of Ballynafeigh’s shared past and looks to the future with excitement at the potential within such a dynamic area.
“There are 15 active and diverse community groups in the area, from the Apprentice Boys Flute Band to An Droichead, and they have all come together to help put on these events for the local community. This is more than cross community work because the events in no way dilute the different communities cultures, but at |the same time are staged to be inviting |and welcoming to all those from |different backgrounds.
“We have had a football/Gaelic football/rugby debate , listened to an Orangeman speaking to us about why he speaks Irish, were entertained by a variety of music representing all Ulster based cultures, and have learned the rights of EU migrant workers in our country .
“There is also an emphasis on developing understanding between the different cultures who live in the area, not just been British and Irish cultures, but also with those living here from other countries to work.
“We have developed local community champions, people living in the area who are developing their community development skills. They have organised a fantastic night at the Pavilion (Thursday September 23) where there will be samba drumming, a blues band, quiz and comedy performances.
Trish O’Kane, interdependence project development worker at Ballynafeigh Community Development Association said: “We delivered 4,000 booklets detailing the events to all the homes in the area. It really is for everybody and we hope next year can be even bigger and better!”