Housing providers bring local people and services together
10 December 2019
Four housing associations have joined together to host an information event for people aged 55 and over who live in the homes they provide in the Derry/Londonderry area.
Pictured at the 'Making Connections' event are L-R: Peter Small, Apex tenant; Teresa McDonough, Habinteg tenant; Rachael Power from Apex; Marian McCallion, Clanmil tenant; Mayor of Derry City and Strabane, Cllr Michaela Boyle; Ryan Young from Radius; Margaret McLaughlin from Habinteg; Austin Kelly from Clanmil and Bernie Cassidy, Radius tenant.
More than 80 people attended the free "Making Connections" event at the Maldron Hotel in the City which was organised by Apex, Clanmil Housing, Radius and Habinteg.
At the event, which was introduced by Cllr Michaela Boyle, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, people were able to find out about local services for over 55s. They also enjoyed lunch, music and a game of bingo together.
North West Volunteer Centre, Libraries NI, Drink Wise, Good Morning Call, Pension Wise and the Disability Equality Group all had information stands at the event. Advice on will writing, welfare and local foodbanks was also available.
Marian McCallion, who attended the event said:
"We've had a great day and I've found out lots of useful information about what's going on in my local area that I could be involved in. It was really nice to spend time with my neighbours and meet up with other people who live close by. Hopefully there will be more events like this coming up."
Austin Kelly, Community Cohesion Officer at Clanmil said:
"It makes perfect sense for housing associations in the area to work together like this. Our tenants all share the same issues and interests and we can do much more to support them by working together.
"Events like this not only help people find out about, and tap into, the services and activities available in their area, but they also provide opportunities to meet new people, make friends and build a wider social network. We're really pleased that so many people have come along."
Rachael Power, Senior Communities Officer at Apex commented:
"It's been fantastic to see older tenants from across the city enjoying an afternoon together in the lead up to Christmas. For many, this is a magical time of year but it can also become a lonely period for those who don't have a wide circle of family and friends. We're delighted to be able to jointly host this event allowing neighbours to come together and build stronger friendships."
Margaret McLaughlin, North West Community Involvement Officer with Habinteg said:
"It has been such a positive event for local residents enjoying the social aspect of the occasion while accessing real support, and for those of us helping to deliver services to the community, being able to work together and pool our shared experience."
Ryan Young, Community Empowerment Coordinator at Radius said:
"We are delighted to work in partnership with our housing association colleagues on initiatives like this, which make such a difference to the people living in our communities."
Good Food Brings Generations Together
06 December 2019
RESIDENTS at Cook Court, Clanmil Housing's independent living scheme in Newtownards, alongside a group of young people from Newtownards, Include Youth Give and Take, met over three sessions sharing stories and experiences over food, with chat and a few gruelling questions.
The project supported by Food for Life Get Together and Linking Generations Northern Ireland, provided an opportunity for people of different ages and backgrounds a chance to get to know each other while sharing real, healthy food.
Nicola Thompson, Senior Youth Worker at Include Youth said, "This fantastic funding has created connections and conversations across generations that wouldn't normally work together. Everyone irrespective of age embraced the sessions, with talk of future working together".
Two young people from Include Youth, Louis and Taylor, "It was good to meet with different generations and talk about being vegan and what that means, while sharing a meal with everyone".
Gillian Elder, scheme coordinator for Cook Court said, "It's been a great experience for all, understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing our individual tastes in food".
William Miskelly who lives at Cook Court really enjoyed the sessions, "It has been a real pleasure to meet this group of young people and have the opportunity to sit down over a meal and get to know them better. Good food is one thing that we all appreciate, regardless of how old or young we are, but we've been finding out that it's not the only interest we share. There's been no shortage of craic".
Record numbers struggling to keep a roof over their heads
05 December 2019
Housing federation calls for urgent action
Following revelations that more than 26,000 people are now living in housing stress in Northern Ireland, a housing federation is calling for urgent action to address the crisis.
Ben Collins, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA), was responding to the latest annual Northern Ireland Housing Statistics which were published this week. Mr Collins noted that politicians already support the key changes that are needed but said progressing these must be put at the top of the political agenda.
"In the last year, 2,000 more people in Northern Ireland have found themselves living in unsafe or unsuitable accommodation. That's another unwelcome record number, up from last year's 24,000," he said.
"For reasons that are outside their control - a change in circumstances, working zero-hour contracts or in low paid jobs, dealing with illness or disability - more and more people here are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
"Despite this crisis, funding and other constraints mean that less than 2,000 new social homes are built each year," Mr Collins continued.
"We can and must do more," he emphasised. "A secure place to call home is the foundation on which people build better lives for themselves and their families. Without a home, it's almost impossible to sustain good physical or mental health, earn a qualification or keep a job.
"That's why housing must be at the very top of our political priorities and that's why NIFHA is launching It Starts with a Home.
"We clearly set out the actions that are needed to make real progress in providing the number of homes that are urgently needed.
"In Homelessness Awareness Week, we ask every General Election candidate and every political party to pledge their commitment to ensuring that everyone in Northern Ireland has a secure place to call home by supporting #StartswithaHome.
"Everyone can do their bit by letting your local politicians know that you care and by following the campaign on Twitter."
It Starts with a Home is available for download at nifha.org.
REMOVED GIVES A VOICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCES OF THE NI SOCIAL CARE SYSTEM
30 October 2019
Clanmil Housing Group welcomed local people to short performances of part of the play 'Removed' at the Lillian Bland Centre on the Ballyclare Road, STEP: The Junction in Dungannon,, the Curzon Apartments on the Ormeau road and Bessbrook Community Centre Newry, followed by a post-show discussions.
Michael Brady MP, Cllr Roisin Mulgrew, Clare McCarty Clanmil Group Chief Executive, Sintija Jaunslaviete, Voices For Young People In Care (VOYPIC), Fionnuala Kennedy, The Playwright, Vanessa Haynes, Barnardo's NI and Judith from Home For Good, at Bessbrook Community Centre
Written by Fionnuala Kennedy, 'Removed' is the latest play by award-winning, Belfast based theatre company Prime Cut Productions. It tells the story of Adam, a young person who has grown up in the Northern Irish Social Care system.
"Adam is OK to share his story - really it's alright - it's OK that his life was turned upside down - and the social workers were nice, kinda - and the foster homes, well... and his baby brother Joe?"
'Removed' is based on interviews with young people with care experience who shared their personal stories with the playwright in collaboration with Voice Of Young People In Care (VOYPIC).
Fionnuala Kennedy said: 'Going into the interviews, my knowledge of the care system was really limited. Your ideas are informed by things you've overheard or assume. So we just started from the beginning: when young people are taken into care- that day or night or moment when you're removed from the familiar and brought into a system where it's difficult to have autonomy over your life, because, as a child, things are decided for you'.
Fionnuala continues: "The play is dedicated to all those making the lives of young people in care better - to the staff of VOYPIC and the many other organisations working with these young people, those incredible foster and adoptive parents who change lives every day, the social workers (the good ones!) navigating the system, but mostly, to those extraordinary young people who gave me their time and shared their stories, who are utterly inspiring and making a huge difference for children in care now, and in the future".
Clanmil Housing, Barnardo's NI, Home For Good and Arts & Business NI have partnered with Prime Cut Productions to deliver a series of free workshops, smaller performances of the show and post-show discussions exploring what it really means to be 'in care' and the realities of fostering.
Clare McCarty, Group Chief Executive at Clanmil Housing said: "At Clanmil we believe that everyone should have a good home where they feel safe and valued. We know that for some people that may be with a loving foster family who can provide the stability and support they need to thrive.
"By telling the story of young people in care, the 'Removed' play provides a window to their experiences that can help more people understand the difference that fostering and adoption can make in someone's life. We also hope that the performances and workshops will make people think seriously about whether they could offer a home to a young person who needs one."
Following a run at the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Babaro International Arts Festival in Galway in October, Northern Ireland audiences will get a chance to watch Removed before it heads to Philadelphia where it has been selected to be one of only two shows from the island of Ireland to feature in the renowned IPAY showcase.
Actor, Conor O'Donnell will deliver the intimate monologue at The Strand Arts Centre, Belfast; The Alley in Strabane, The Braid in Ballymena and Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick.
Tickets for Removed are available from The Strand Arts Centre The Braid Alley Theatre and Down Arts Centre
To book Removed Workshops visit Eventbrite http://bit.ly/Removedworkshop
or contact Bobbi-Rai@primecutproductions.co.uk
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