Belfast Telegraph

XChange Summer School is a chance to rethink the future

By Mark Hackett

As the Assembly goes into recess before its final two years of this term, a group of people from across Northern Ireland will gather in Fermanagh with their eyes firmly fixed on the future.

Participants at the XChange Summer School will spend two days rethinking approaches to some of the key issues impacting on people and politics here.

The gathering, taking place in the beautiful setting of the Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen, is a chance to take stock of the recent period of social shifts changing how we live in Northern Ireland, the challenges of politics locally and the wider changes internationally.

This year, the aim of the summer school is to begin to "change the conversation" in many aspects of Northern Irish society. Specifically, we will be looking at changing the conversation with regards to the role of the media, our liberties and freedoms, the arts and remembering in society.

We have contributions from Adrian Dunbar and Dan Gordon. Lance Price, who was a special advisor to Tony Blair, Padraig O Tuama and Ruth Dudley Edwards will all be taking part. Simon Weston and leading economist David McWilliams will be hosting special fringe sessions.

There will be a core group of 100 during the two days and while the interested invited guests will start the conversation, the focus will be on creating a communal atmosphere.

The summer school is organised by a group of 13 people working in different areas, who have come together to run the Xchange programme.

We want to widen the discussion on how we can create change that will benefit society locally and overcome key barriers.

The Xchange summer school is a place to take time out to challenge your thinking, but it's also a place to make friendships and connections.

There are places for the two days beginning Thursday, June 26, but if you have an interest in a particular speaker, you can go along to one session and attend that way. Take a look at the website – – and get involved.

  • Mark Hackett is director of Forum for Alternative Belfast and an Xchange member

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