A community worker from East Belfast has been made an MBE, in recognition of his work over the last four decades.
Michael Briggs, an executive director of the East Belfast Community Development Agency, said he has been humbled by the recognition.
The 57-year-old has been volunteering and working in East Belfast since he was aged 14.
“It is very humbling as there is a lot of people involved in community organisations,” he said.
Mr Briggs was made an MBE for his services to the voluntary sector and to his local community.
He has worked in a voluntary and paid capacity carrying out work with the youth sector, community and cross-community sector as well as working on Belfast’s interface projects.
Most times east Belfast gets a bad press, so we are trying to do something goodMichael Briggs
Mr Briggs manages a number of community development programmes throughout east of the city and has been at the helm of the network centre for 18 years.
“Under my leadership we developed the East Belfast Network Centre, based at an old school which was built in 1926 and had laid derelict for 15 years.
“We raised the funds to turn that into a network centre where there are now a number of community organisations based.”
Mr Briggs manages the organisation and 15 staff.
“We try to play a co-ordinating role, working with a number of other organisations to support them,” he added.
“We develop leadership roles in the area and make sure east Belfast gets its cut of the pie and that it’s recognised for what it is doing.
“Most times east Belfast gets a bad press, so we are trying to do something good.
“It’s challenging to get the recognition that voluntary organisations deserve and funding has always been a year-on-year basis, and for the past 10 years I have worked on a year-on-year contract.”
Over the past year, a lot of the work has been focussed on dealing with the pandemic.
“We have been managing a huge programme around food and getting it out to organisations which they split out across the communities,” he added.
“The one thing good coming from Covid is that government departments recognise the good role voluntary organisations play in society when it’s needed.
“Covid has been a nightmare, but in the community sector it has been an opportunity to shine a light on the role they play, not just in east Belfast, but throughout the city and Northern Ireland.”