Over 1,000 social housing residents from 40 neighbourhoods to take part
The Housing Associations Integration Project (HAIP), a unique cross-border initiative aimed at promoting good relations across housing associations in Northern Ireland and the Border Regions, was launched on Wednesdy, 4th July at Girdwood Community Hub, Belfast. The launch event also featured a special appearance by Clanmil Community Choir.
The €1.1m project, which is funded by the EU’s Peace IV Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), will bring together social housing residents from a range of religious and cultural backgrounds to share experiences, learn about differences and embrace diversity in the communities in which they live.
The aim of Housing Associations Integration Project* is to build, improve and sustain positive relationships with local people and their neighbours from different cultures and countries.
Alan Shannon, Chairperson of the project’s lead partner, NIFHA and also chair of the Project Steering Committee for the Housing Associations Integration Project, said at the launch “Peace IV funding has enabled us to secure €1.1m of funding to deliver a significant cross-border social housing project, The Housing Associations Integration Project (HAIP).
First such project to include both Northern Ireland and the border counties
“It is the first initiative of its kind to cover Northern Ireland and the border counties and aims to promote good relations within and across housing associations. The project will be delivered by a new partnership involving four of Northern Ireland’s largest housing associations (Radius, Clanmil, Choice and Apex), TIDES Training, Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA), and the Irish Council for Social Housing.”
He continued “The project partners have come together because of their combined scale, regional spread and their experience of promoting and working in good relations. We are looking forward to working with our partners and communities to deliver this exciting project.”
Richard Mealey, Project Coordinator, Housing Associations Integration Project (HAIP) added “The Housing Associations Integration Project aims to support the development of cohesive communities, where residents respect diversity and recognise the value of differing viewpoints in a multi-cultural society. The cross-border dimension of the project is unique, and we look forward to working with the project delivery team in the coming months.”
The roll out of the project in to neighbourhoods will be a staged process consisting of: (1) Community Audit; (2) Community Capacity Building; (3) Cross Community/Cross Border Community Skills Workshops; (4) Bringing the Learning Back and (5) Sharing Best Practice.
Discussing how the project is developing, Mr Mealey continued “Nine community audits across different housing developments have already been conducted, with many more scheduled for the coming months. A total of 40 audits will form the basis, understanding and rationale for all future cross community activity.
“It is envisaged that over 1,000 tenants from 40 neighbourhoods will take part in community building programmes and skills workshops by August 2020. A number of study visits are also scheduled, and we are looking to develop a range of new community-based partnerships which will provide an important channel for residents to meet regularly and share ideas.”
Aims to reinforce peace and stability
Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body, added “The EU’s PEACE IV Programme has been designed to encourage positive relationships between people from all communities. Unfortunately this region has been left with deeply ingrained issues associated with social segregation, as a result of the troubles/conflict. By improving cross-community relations in up to 40 different social housing areas across Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland this innovative project will help to reinforce peace and stability.
“The project will also deliver a bespoke good relations training programme for up to 200 people, on both sides of the border, with the hope that many of these individuals will go on to become ‘community champions’, delivering positive change in their local areas.”
Bringing communities together
Christine McCarron, a tenant with Clanmil Housing Association, stated: “Having lived in a similar social housing environment, I completely relate to the aims of the Housing Associations Integration Project and I’m delighted to see that the team will be working with residents across Northern Ireland and the border counties. They are working to build a better society and I feel this initiative will have a huge impact on helping to bring communities together. It is important to be able to live and work well within any community”.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Housing Associations Integration Project can contact Richard Mealey, NIFHA (Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations), tel: 028 90897 698 or email@example.com or www.haiptogether.org
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.