Junior Ministers hail positive impact of Urban Villages projects

Date published: 17 September 2020

Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons have hailed the positive impact being made on people’s lives through Urban Villages Initiative community-led projects.


As part of Good Relations Week, the Junior Ministers took part in an online engagement event with groups from across the five Urban Villages areas, and enjoyed a focused discussion about their ongoing work.

Speaking after hearing presentations about a selection of the many projects which are positively impacting people’s lives, Junior Minister Declan Kearney said: “It was extremely encouraging to hear from so many of the participants who are involved in programmes that are fostering positive community relations and building community capacity in Urban Village areas.

“It was great to see and hear how these groups have adapted during the Coronavirus health emergency to continue their invaluable work. The impact these projects are making on the ground and their positive effect on local communities cannot be overstated.

“We will continue to support organisations across the Urban Village areas to develop projects to break down barriers, build good relations and improve the lives of local people.”

Junior Minister Lyons said: “It was really fitting that during Good Relations Week we were able to engage with projects from the Urban Villages Initiative and hear about the good work that is being done on the ground.

“From what we heard from today’s presentations, it is clear organisations have had to adapt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was inspiring to hear how groups have risen to the challenge with energy and speed to reach out to help and protect the most vulnerable in their communities.

“The groups have also developed integrated approaches to really hit the core aims of the Urban Villages Initiative; of fostering positive community identity, building community capacity, and improving the physical environment.

“It was very humbling to hear from young people breaking down the traditional stereotypes and recognising where they are more alike over their differences, and the impact they are having as a result, helping to create stronger more resilient communities.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Urban Villages Initiative is a headline action within the NI Executive’s Together: Building a United Community (TBUC) Strategy, and is overseen by the Executive Office.
  2. The initiative is designed to improve good relations outcomes and develop thriving places where there has been a history of deprivation and community tension.
  3. The five Urban Villages areas are: Ardoyne and Greater Ballysillan (North Belfast); Colin (West Belfast); EastSide (East Belfast); Sandy Row, Donegall Pass and the Markets areas (South Belfast); The Bogside, Fountain and Bishop Street (Derry~Londonderry).
  4. The project groups which took part in the ministerial engagement event were: SB Alternatives, Youth Action Partnership (YAP), Poleglass Community Association @ Sally Gardens, Colin Community Capacity Building Project, Walkway Community Association, Bridging the Gap Programme, Streets Alive, and YEHA and Streetbeat with The Wraparound Programme.

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