Belfast Telegraph

Mayor set to launch new racism strategy

By Brian Lovett

A community relations strategy which will tackle racism in the Village area is to be officially launched by the Lord Mayor of Belfast tomorrow (Friday, January 15).

The project by local community groups was initially set up in response to racist attacks on Roma and Polish people living in the area last year when a number of Roma were forced to flee their homes.

The strategy, led by the Greater Village Regeneration Trust (GVRT) and Village Focus Group, outlines a commitment to the development of community relations in the area over the next three years.

It aims to develop a strategy that will make the Village “a more harmonious place in which to live” and “defuse racist tensions and prevent further attacks/intimidation”.

The strategy was developed through a consultative process that involved a community survey to sample opinion and extensive consultation with key stakeholders.

GVRT director Paula Bradshaw said the group has been working on developing the scheme since the racist attacks took place.

“The reason we went for a formulated strategy is because we realised there was a huge challenge,” she said. “That said, we believe that those who would express racist views in the Village would be few and far between. But we needed a robust strategy to deal with those issues.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Naomi Long, is set to do the honours at the Richview Regeneration Centre at 11am.

GVRT will have the support of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive through its Shared Neighbourhood programme.

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