Belfast Telegraph

Cross community scheme is picture perfect for locals

by Michael Bashford

Inner East is the title of a new cross community photographic exhibition that was officially unveiled this week in the Oasis coffee shop at Castlereagh Street in east Belfast.

The exhibition is the culmination of a project carried out as part of the Inner East Local Area Network Programme.

As part of the project participants from Lower Castlereagh, Lower Newtownards, Lower Ravenhill and Lower Woodstock Roads and Short Strand neighbourhoods came together for photography workshops during May and June.

During the workshops a range of themes were developed which encouraged the group to communicate with each other and to look at their own community and the communities around them in a fresh and engaging way and to capture those thoughts on camera.

The photographs — all taken by local people — will be displayed in public areas at Mountpottinger Road, Lower Newtownards Road and Templemore Avenue as well as inside the Oasis coffee shop and Ballymac and Short Strand community centres.

Eileen Mellon from the Housing Executive’s Community Cohesion Unit was delighted that the project had been such a success. She said: “The aim of the Inner East Local Area Network Programme is to develop positive relations at a local level as well as securing shared city space and this photographic project has certainly done that. Not only do we have a lasting reminder of the project in photographic form but it has further developed the relationships that already existed between the five communities.”

Bernie McConnell from the Short Strand Community Forum said: “Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the project. It has certainly made us more aware of our own community and those around us.

“I would certainly encourage everyone to take a look at the photographs, whether it’s when you are out and about or at one of the centres — it is east Belfast as you might never have seen it photographed before.”

Caroline Roberts from Ravenlink0 Residents Group took part in the project and added: “It was also a bit of a first for me because I had never been in Short Strand before. I actually took my mother along for support as she would regularly go to events in Short Strand but I have to say that everyone was really friendly and welcoming and because of that I have been back to take part in other projects organised through the Inner East Local Area Network.”

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