I'm a local resident or work for a community organisation - why should I sign up?
Voluntary and community sector staff and local volunteers who live or work at interface areas in Belfast have taken part in the programme as participants, alongside public sector staff and members of political parties. We’ve been joined by groups as varied as Ligoniel Improvement Association, Newington Housing Association, Cliftonville Community Regeneration Forum, Ethnic Minority Support Organisation NI, East Belfast Alternatives, Cliftonville Integrated Primary School PTFA, Women’s TEC, Ashton Community Trust, Community Sports Network, An Droichead, Mornington Community Project, Youth Link NI, Ormeau Business Park, Greater Village Regeneration Trust, Chinese Welfare Association NI, Woodvale Community Centre, Cara Friend.
Course feedback suggests to us that people involved in voluntary and community groups and organisations have not only valued learning together with those who work in other sectors, but have also valued making connections with each other and finding out more about what different groups and organisations are offering in the area.
Zoe Ferguson is Treasurer of Cliftonville Integrated Primary School PTFA. She did her TLP course in the Crumlin Road / Ardoyne / Glenbryn Area in Spring 2020 – the course had only completed 2 days before lockdown kicked in. After a short interruption, the course was completed online. The group has now planned a joint project together, and have started a What’s App group to keep in touch. Zoe agreed to do a “Q & A” style case study for us when she finished the course.
How did you feel about your course being interrupted by Covid 19 lockdown, and what was it like to complete it online?
“When we were told by NICVA on our last day of face-to-face training before lockdown that you wouldn’t leave us hanging and we’d find a way to complete the course, I really felt we would never get the chance as the circumstances were so bad. And when it was offered online, I had to step out of my comfort zone – it was daunting. But now, I’m really glad that we had the chance to do it that way and it helped that it was a lovely group. It was so easy to speak to each other and we gave advice to each other. Using Zoom we finished the course, it was great to get back and involved with others again. Using the breakout rooms worked great and hearing different views from others also. Guest speakers also joined us and we didn't miss out. It was well worth taking part and I would definitely advise others to take part. It was worth completing it online”.
What stood out for you?
"The session on Addressing Barriers to Transformation' really stood out for me. I used it to think about our own group, the barriers we need to address and how to approach things differently. I also liked the session on 'Leadership in Action' where we had speakers from other local organisations – it was really good to hear from others who weren’t part of our training group".
What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?
"I will definitely look at ways to avoid and address barriers when we get back together again. And I’ll also use the idea of letting people use their voice – making sure that people participate more in the group".
Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?
"Yes, I’d be more confident to encourage others to step forward and get more involved".
Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?
“I will make sure we keep the connections I’ve made in the course, including with the council, because this could open other doors”.
What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?
“Our Transform for Change project will make a difference. Our idea is for a Community Garden, with an emphasis on creating a cross-community active space where people can get involved in activities. We want to get people from all religions and all backgrounds to get involved. Our course group has set up a What’s App Group and we’re already exchanging ideas about what we could do next – for example one of the group suggested that we have a speaker talk to us about accessibility in relation to the garden”.
What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?
“It will make a difference because, if our project goes ahead and is as good as we believe it can be, it will give other people a push they need to make a difference and take things on themselves”.
Zoe’s experience is echoed by others whose comments on the programme include:
John, a participant on the Short Strand Inner East Autumn 2019 TLP was asked whether there were people/agencies he’d feel able to talk to and work with now that he wasn’t before, He replied:
“Yes, like Alternatives, local councillors, EBCDA, Department of Justice”. Asked what difference it would make to how he engaged in the interface area, he said: “Play a more direct role in chairing difficult meetings. And I know who to speak to for support. It has given me more confidence in myself and greater understanding of others”. He planned to use his new skills through his own group committee, and other community groups, and engaging with councillors. John felt that the impact of the course on the area was “improved relationships, newer people getting involved. Helping the area move on through new practical projects”. He himself would be more likely to get involved in “environmental stuff, street based youth work, cultural and historical projects” thanks to the programme.
Other local residents and community and voluntary sector participants said the following:
“I experienced a cross-cultural group of leaders and am amazed by the diversity of ideas and possible leadership solutions and opportunities” (Heather Carey, Advisor, Mornington Community Project, Lower Ormeau and Markets Autumn 2019).
“I will look at any issue I face from many perspectives and I will work with others more, and be aware of others’ point of views. I have found this course amazing. I have found the course and the information invaluable, the tutors were amazing and the information was presented in a fun, relaxed manner”.Seán Allen, local resident, Falls Shankill TLP 2 Spring 2020).
“The course has been amazing. It will help with my practice and working relations across the community. Really engaging, great opportunity to build relationships across sectors” (Stephanie O’ Rourke, Team Leader, Springboard, Falls / Shankill TLP 1 Autumn 2019).
“Very enjoyable and worthwhile course. Hopefully we can achieve a better quality of life and positive change in the future. As a volunteer it has given me confidence to try new things and believe with time we could enhance our community for the better” (Carla Hart, Volunteer and local resident, Short Strand Inner East TLP 1).
"This course has provided me with relevant information and skills to be a good leader” (Israel Eguaogie, Chairperson, Belfast City of Sanctuary, Limestone Road / Alexandra Park TLP 1 Spring 2020).
“An amazing, thought provoking, informative and inspiring leadership programme, I leave feeling refreshed, inspired and motivated to make change – thank-you. I feel I am better equipped with more skills and knowledge to make transformative change happen. I will use the tactics and strategies learned and integrate them into my practice” Rory Doherty, Societal Change Project Manager, Quaker Service, Falls Shankill TLP 1 Autumn 2019).
“I learnt a lot, really enjoyed it. Felt my voice was listened to and my awareness of my local community has really improved. Excellent presentation by our tutor and great support and organisation” (Lesley Doherty, Local Resident and Tour Guide, Limestone Road / Alexandra Park TLP 1 Spring 2020.
“Informative, strategic and worthwhile. Practical guidance and experience from experts” (Christina Taylor, Project Manager, Ashton Community Trust, Falls Shankill TLP 1 Autumn 2019).
“Great programme and the opportunity to link with people and organisations looking to change the areas we live and work in is invaluable” (Anthony Kerr, Chief Executive, Newington Housing Association, Limestone Road / Alexandra Park TLP 1 Spring 2020).
“Really good programme for identifying conflict, and management” (Amanda McGurk, Gendered Violence Worker, Carafriend, HERENI, Suffolk Lenadoon TLP 2 Spring 2020).
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