Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Boost for relations in the Village area

Community representatives from the greater Village getting Polish lessons

Community workers in the greater Village area have announced a number of joint initiatives to improve relations in the area.

Members of the Village Focus Group and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have agreed guidelines and procedures to help formalise the practical relationship between them and a new ID card scheme for community workers.

Village Focus Group chair Colin Patton said: “The community and the police have been working hard since the trouble related to the Northern Ireland and Poland football match.

“Together we now have agreed protocols within which the community can assist the police to deal with anti-social behaviour and tension.

“Regular meetings will continue to take place between the PSNI and the community, ensuring effective communication and co-operative relationships exist at all times.”

Related to this will be a new ID card scheme for community workers on the ground to help police officers them during disturbances.

Heather Calvert, vice-chair of Village Focus Group, said: “Through local contact with key community representatives, tensions can be calmed and diffused at an early stage.”

Paula Bradshaw, director of Greater Village Regeneration Trust and chairperson of the area’s Community Relations Working Group, said: “These new community safety initiatives are just a small section of the work now taking place in the Village.

“Already in recent weeks local people have participated in mediation training, Polish language lessons, and the Village Focus Group and the PSNI have worked together conducting house-to-house visits with local Polish residents of the Village.”

The Community Relations Working Group is made up of representatives of Village Focus Group, Greater Village Regeneration Trust, South Belfast Roundtable on Racism, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Community Relations Council and the Northern Ireland Polish Association.

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