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‘Finding Our Way’ cross-border project officially launched

Published on:  29 Jan 2018

 

Local community representatives came together today to celebrate the official launch of a new 18-month cross community, cross border project ‘Finding Our Way’, administered by the Swanlinbar Development Association.

Funded by the International Fund for Ireland under its Peace Impact Programme, the project will address the deficit of cross community and cross border participation in the Swanlinbar and border area, through a diverse range of activities and skills training programmes which will engage people of all age groups and backgrounds, encouraging them to work on a cross community and cross border basis in a way that breaks down barriers and builds positive relationships. 

The project has the potential to be truly transformative by drawing on the existing natural resources of the West Cavan and West Fermanagh area through the unique UNESCO recognised GEOPARK and utilising its economic potential as a common bond that unites the two communities. The potential for alternative employment opportunities and the creation of a viable sustainable social enterprise are very real outcomes that are achievable in this deprived cross border community. 

‘Finding our Way’ will be delivered in a collaborative way, working with organisations and individuals, and where possible and relevant will engage directly with other statutory agencies in the area including Cavan County Council and Fermanagh Omagh District Council and the GEOPARK. 

There are four key strands to the project:

‘Finding Our Way’ Community Cohesion, Peacebuilding and Capacity Building Programme

This will include a series of facilitated workshops for participants and committee members to share approaches to community engagement.  Dedicated peace building workshops will embed the project in the local community where they can exchange views on key participation barriers and explore commonalities and differences as they relate to building positive relations.   Specifically, there will be facilitated workshops and capacity training for the local Community Volunteers and Committee to enable them to act as community champions in a more cohesive unit.

Cross-Border Cross-Community Employability Programme

The Irish Orienteering Championships which are coming to both the West Cavan and West Fermangah area in early 2019 were identified as a neutral vehicle that unites the 2 communities. The vision is that this community organisation utilise their environmentally rich local environment and develop an orienteering Hub in Swanlinbar in the build up to the 2019 championship.

Young Persons Programme Development Programme

A cross-community sports skills programme which will engage young people from both sides of the border through sports for all.  The Programme will run a series of workshops where the young people will look at Good Relations, Cultural Diversity, equality, respect, health and wellbeing etc. 

Men’s Development Programme

This programme aims are to engage hard to reach local men that will assist in building the social capital and sustainability of their community.  This programme is about sustainability and legacy post project.  This is based on the needs of the local male population in Swanlinbar and the lack of provision and interests to engage males in community life.  The participants will also be able to take part in the orienteering skills programme with the view they could assist with the orienteering days.  The Programme will include a range of weekly activities to share skills and learn new skills among a group of men of all ages.

Speaking at the launch of the programme Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland, Dorothy Clarke, said the Fund is committed to delivering real and positive transformation in communities through the Peace Impact Programme and we are delighted to support this participatory cross border project.  “This project is designed to address the legacy of conflict, current social and economic realities facing many rural communities, such as isolation and youth emigration, along with the uncertainties of Brexit.  By offering practical support, the participants can take better control of their lives and become more resilient to life’s challenges.    In particular, the project aims to increase people’s involvement in their local community and to encourage them to explore the differences and similarities of living in different states but only a few miles apart.  Through learning new skills, building relationships and gaining greater levels of cultural awareness, I have no doubt this project will leave a lasting positive legacy for the participants themselves and for their wider communities.  I wish everyone involved in the project success in the year ahead”.

Ms Clarke took the opportunity to thank the international donors to the Fund - the European Union and the Governments of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - for their support.

Sharon Howe, Community Co-Ordinator said:  ‘This project’s peace- building and cross border dimension provides meaningful new opportunities for engagement between individuals and within a community that has been impacted by the border in the past, in a  number of ways and  traditionally or culturally have been divided.   The ‘Finding Your Way’ project demonstrates the pivotal role the IFI plays in enabling and facilitating greater cohesion and cultural engagement with each other and with those a few miles away in Northern Ireland. On behalf of Swanlinbar Development Association, the groups with whom we will be working and the local communities, I would like to thank the International Fund for Ireland most sincerely for their funding support, without which, we could not have undertaken this programme”.

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