Locals shaping their own future

By Paul Ainsworth

R ESIDENTS of three of South Belfast’s inner city neighbourhoods are being given a say on the future directions of their communities. Over the last week, households in the Lower Ormeau, Markets and Donegall Pass areas have been sent questionnaires on behalf of the local Cromac Regeneration Initiative, which aims to bridge divides between the three communities and improve life for locals.

The questions were designed to find out what locals thought of community safety, and how it can be improved, along with asking how shared space could be better utilised, and if tenants were happy with the service provided by the Housing Executive, who jointly organised the questionnaire project.

This week, completed questionnaires will be collected by HE research staff door-to-door, with results going towards the implementation of a new ‘Good Relations Plan’. It is hoped by Cromac Regeneration Staff that additional funding opportunities can be sought to help put residents’ visions for their areas into reality.

Welcoming the project, and the direct inclusion of local householders, Gerard Rice of the Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group said: “We were pleased to have been selected for this programme which targets our three communities. Locals are looking forward to the outcome of the results and will be grateful for any funding which will help support and develop the overall Good Relations Plan over the next 18 months.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Hawthorne, who heads the Housing Executive’s Community Cohesion Unit, praised the work of residents reps on the ground, adding: “There are vital contributions being made locally by groups who work tirelessly to improve community relations and cohesion where they live and work.

“A lot of excellent work is already being done by these groups to develop relationships between and within communities and the survey will provide us with feedback on how best we can support this vital.”

The HE have also stressed staff calling door-to-door will all have photographic ID, and will assist residents on any questions they had concerns with.

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