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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

IFI delivers further support for local communities as Carson Project awarded £64,983

The IFI board. L-R: Avila Kilmurray, Allen McAdam, Sadie Ward McDermott, IFI Chairperson Paddy Harte, Bernie Butler, Peter Osborne and Hilary Singleton.

A local project based in Ballymena has received £64,983 support from the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) through its latest funding allocation.

The Carson Project works primarily in Ballymena town but also supports rural areas of Cullybackey, Broughshane, Ahoghill, Kells and Dervock. It will deliver a series of community development initiatives over a one year period.

The IFI was set up by the British and Irish governments as an independent organisation in 1986. It delivers a range of peace and reconciliation initiatives across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.

The Carson Project has been supported by the IFI for many years. It is funded through the IFI’s Peace Impact Programme, which is designed to deliver positive community transformation through sensitive interventions in communities that have not previously, or only partially, participated in peace building and reconciliation activities.

Projects operate in areas that suffer from high levels of economic and social deprivation. It increases engagement through a range of activities around cultural identity, education and skills development.

This enables communities to build resilience and navigate their way through more challenging issues such as parades, paramilitary gatekeeping, flags and bonfires.

The Carson Project is involved in promoting culture and heritage and encourages participants to take on a more positive role within their communities. For the first time, the project plans to engage local women in challenging peace building and conflict transformation conversations.

They will facilitate their development through a series of workshops and training, which will equip them with the confidence and skills they need to become more active in their community enabling them to recognise the importance of their role in peace building.

IFI Chairperson Paddy Harte said:

“Peace building in any context is a slow process, but we are committed to supporting and empowering communities. Over the last 35 years, we have achieved a lot by implementing innovative programmes and initiatives aimed at tackling the most difficult issues and reaching out to marginalised communities.

“There is still however much work to be done as we continue to work against an incredibly challenging backdrop of instability where many simply feel that the Peace Process has alienated them and left their communities behind.

“Through our work we believe that continued partnership and collaboration will enable communities to evolve and ultimately create better lives and futures for all. Our work is more important than ever, and we are greatly encouraged by the difference our projects are making at a grass roots level daily.

“Difficult conversations have resulted in the removal of Peace Walls, some which have stood for more than 40 years. In the last year alone, we have diverted more than 3,000 young people away from paramilitary recruitment, with more than 3,200 young people achieving a range ofaccreditations and a further 528 in further education and training.

“This latest support package of £476,469 will provide much needed support, benefiting communities who need intervention the most.”

The Chairman also took the opportunity to thank the international donors who contribute to the Fund - the European Union and the Governments of the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

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