Civic Engagement in East Belfast - Greenway Legacy Programme

14 Jun 2021 Susan Glass    Last updated: 14 Jun 2021

Greenway Legacy Programme

As part of NICVA's Communities in Transition: Building Capacity in East Belfast, the Greenway Legacy Programme was developed as a pilot project by EastSide Greenway, in partnership with EBCDA's Youth Practioners' Forum.

The Connswater Community Greenway is a 9km linear park that has been created throughout east Belfast, following the course of the Connswater, Knock and Loop Rivers, connecting the open and green spaces. The Greenway has created a vibrant, attractive, safe and accessible parkland for leisure, recreation and community events and activities. 

Through this civic engagement project, EastSide Greenway has worked with six young people aged 18 to 24, who are not in full-time education or employment.  The programme has given them opportunities for training and skills development, which have been specifically targeted around roles linked to parks, open spaces and outdoor event spaces, including practical, transferrable skills like bike maintenance, Walk Leader and World Host training.     

Building Confidence and Employability

The programme has also included sessions on interview techniques, CV writing and personal development, all vital skills to enable the young participants to build their confidence and get them back into education and employment. The Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on young people’s confidence. The engagement is continuing and there are now opportunities for in-person and outdoor training and activities.  Jacqueline O’Hagan is the Community Projects Officer for EastSide Greenway. She said:

Being able to pilot a project like the Greenway Legacy programme, we have been able to offer young people in east Belfast access to a three-week training and development programme, which will better equip them to get out into the world of employment and really bridge that gap between education and employment.”

At the end of the programme there is an opportunity for one year’s paid casual employment as a part of the Greenway Leader Team, carrying out litter picking, horticulture, community engagement and stewarding of the Connswater Greenway.  The skills gained will be invaluable for anyone who hopes to pursue a career in physical activity, events management, tourism, horticulture and much more.  These activities are also designed to reduce vulnerabilities that can lead individuals to be drawn down negative pathways. 

Feedback from the participants has been very positive -:

“I have gained new skills and I feel I definitely can go out and volunteer now.”

“I’ve learnt more about the jobs that I can do.”

“I’ve learnt skills that I can include in my CV - even taking part in this programme can go on my CV. I learnt a lot about personal development and skills as a volunteer in general.”

“Overall, it was a great experience.”

“I have felt lost recently and this programme has given me hope that I can find a career I want to follow”.

You can hear more from Jacqueline and the participants in this short film below:

Civic Engagement in East Belfast - Greenway Legacy Programme from NICVA on Vimeo.

If you are aged 18 to 24 and interested in volunteering on Connswater Greenway, please contact Jacqueline O’Hagan, Community Project Officer -            T: 028 9046 7931 / E: [email protected] /

The Greenway Legacy Project was funded as part of the Communities in Transition: Building Capacity in East Belfast Project.

Communities in Transition is a project funded by the Executive Office and managed through Cooperation Ireland. The Building Capacity project in east Belfast has been delivered by Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action with their partners East Belfast Community Development Agency. Since March 2020, the project has supported the development of community and voluntary sector capacity in The Mount and Ballymacarrett areas of east Belfast.


                                                                        's picture
by Susan Glass

Capacity Building Programme Coordinator

[email protected]

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