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28 September 2020

Clanmil, Radius and APEX Housing to deliver over 1000 Cultural Festival Boxes

When you can't bring people together for a festival what do you do? Bring a virtual festival to the people - in a box! That's the solution three housing associations have come up with when they couldn't hold their Cultural Diversity Festival in Ormeau Park owing to the current Covid social distancing measures.



The original Cultural Diversity Festival was being planned by three Housing Associations - Radius Housing, Clanmil Housing and Apex Housing - to celebrate the diverse cultural traditions of communities living in south and east Belfast. However, with the current Covid public health restrictions in place, the planned festival cannot take place, but rather than let the opportunity to celebrate our cultural diversity pass, the three organisations decided that if they couldn't bring people to a cultural festival, then they would bring the cultural festival to the people in a box full of innovative ideas, recipes and activities from cultures across the world.



This week the three partners have delivered the Festival in a Box to 1000 homes, 40 schools and 40 community groups across Belfast. The Boxes include games, recipe ideas and music, with the aim of building understanding and respect for the many cultures in our diverse society. While the box is full of recipes and cultural activities from around the world, it also highlights the local history
and culture of the communities in which we all live in.



The box includes:

One World Box with Recipes, craft activities and materials from around the world;
Fighting Fit - 6 weeks of Online 'Zoom' Fitness Sessions;
Activity Packs on Northern Irish History;
Irish History and The Tin Whistle - including a tin whistle;
Pizza Pack - make your own pizza at home;
Radius Exercise Cards and Workout Logs; and
Additional booklets and information sheets on culture, health and well-being.



The project has been supported by a range of organisations, including Artsekta, Extern Connections, Belfast Community Sports Development Network, Alternatives and An Droichead. The project has been funded by the Department for Communities Shared Housing Programme which has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building United Communities Strategy. The Festival Boxes have been delivered to homes in Ravenhill, Ormeau Road and Felden as part of these areas Good Relations Plans. In addition, the Festival Boxes were delivered to Harding Memorial Primary School, Malvern Primary School and the Annadale and Haywood Residents Association.

Speaking at the launch, Sharon Traynor from Radius Housing said:

"The aim of the cultural festival is to celebrate the diversity and difference within our communities. Sharing the food, dance, crafts and activities from many different countries helps us to understand diversity and enjoy new experiences. Last year we were able to deliver the festival in the Ormeau Park with over 2000 in attendance, and while we would love to be gathering in Ormeau Park for this year's festival, the Festival in a Box will virtually bring the smells, tastes and fun of so many cultures to homes and schools across Belfast."

Philip Whyte from Clanmil Housing added:
"Covid-19 has impacted on so many services and organisations, but it was important for us as housing associations that the work we do to build strong and diverse communities continues. As we all learn to adapt to working and living through this pandemic, we are finding new ways of connecting with people, and while the Festival in a Box is an innovative way to share cultural experiences, we hope that next year we can all meet up and celebrate together."

Donna Richmond from Apex Housing said:
"We were so disappointed to not be able to gather in Ormeau Park this year to enjoy the festival and appreciate the different cultures that live within the area. It is always nice to connect in person with our tenants and the wider community. We have all been forced to adapt to a new way working and engaging. We hope that the cultural boxes bring some joy and understanding of the diverse community we live in. Hopefully next year we can celebrate this festival together in Ormeau Park. Keep safe."


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