O ne thing that has set the Whitewell area apart from other communities over the years is the strong community spirit. A North Belfast area once known for interface violence and marching season tensions has defied the odds with the launch of a new cross community organisation.
The Greater Whitewell Community Surgery is an amalgamation of Greencastle CEP and Whitecity Community Development Association, two community groups that represented either side of the sectarian divide. This groundbreaking new project will be a first attempt to address issues in the seven areas of Bawnmore, Throne, Greencastle, Whitecity, Longlands, Graymount and Fairyknowe in a shared way.
The area saw a number of deaths during the Troubles and in recent years has dealt with contentious loyal order marches through the area as well as sectarian violence including a mass exodus of Catholic families living on the Whitewell Road forced out of their homes during the Drumcree violence in 1997.
However the set up of the joint community project is just one example of how far the community has come over recent years.
Last month it had even more reason to celebrate when the area’s children’s play park Finlay Park underwent am expensive refurbishment and reopened for kids in the area.
People from all over the community gathered in the park for an official opening ceremony with Belfast Lord mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile.
The area is also well known by locals as a great spot to shop locally and support local businesses.
The length of the Whitewell Road has something for everyone with its solicitors practice, a sandwich shop, dry cleaners, dentist, a clothing repairs shop and a beauty salon and hairdressers.
The area is that well populated with good quality and well-respected local businesses that locals living on the Whitewell don’t have to venture far to get everything they need.
From the shores of Belfast Lough right up to the foot of the Cave Hill, the Whitewell Road is one of the best areas to live in North Belfast and with generations of local families continuing to live in the area, it has a true community spirit of which many other areas cannot boast.