bric Programme briefs EU Delegation

Good Relations essential to future of social housing, bric tells European Parliament committee

Developing and maintaining a robust Good Relations strategy is the key to success within Northern Ireland’s deeply segregated social housing sector, a delegation from the European Parliament has heard.

bric Programme briefs EU Delegation

Kerry McIvor, bric Manager, pictured at Waterford Institute of Technology

The message was delivered to the visiting group in Waterford by representatives from the Building Relationships in Communities (bric) Programme as they showcased their work following an invitation from the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The EU PEACE III funded bric Programme is a unique partnership between the Rural Development Council, Housing Executive and Tides Training and is currently operating in almost 90 social housing areas across Northern Ireland as it aims to build and cultivate good relations across the province.

MEPs attending the event included Sean Kelly from Ireland, Iñaki Irazabalbeitia from the Basque Country, Constanze Krehl from Germany, Iosif Matula from Romania and Delegation Chair Joachim Zeller from Germany.

Speaking at the meeting, Kerry McIvor, bric Programme Manager, said it was an honour to present to the delegation and to have the work of the initiative recognised by SEUPB.

“Through our working partnership with the Housing Executive and Tides Training, the bric Programme is active throughout Northern Ireland and works to enhance community relations, improve the environment of local areas, and benefit local residents.

“We are delighted to be able to highlight our work to the European Parliament as we strive to tackle one of the biggest issues facing Northern Ireland now and in the coming years.

“The bric Programme works tirelessly to help empower the Housing Executive and local residents as they work to achieve their goals of creating neighbourliness and inclusiveness in all aspects of community life.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity and will hopefully help secure further backing for this very worthwhile programme from the European Parliament.”

Mary Montague, Director of Tides Training, said:

“It was forward thinking of the Housing Executive to engage through the SEUPB programme and participate in this project.

“The social housing sector in Northern Ireland is going through a period of enormous change and transition. Through the bric Programme we have been playing an integral role in helping the Housing Executive face these challenges and deal with them.

“At the heart of all our work on the bric Programme over the last four years has been the importance of developing and nurturing Good Relations and Social Cohesion structures within Northern Ireland’s social housing sector and the people it serves.

“The outcomes of this have been incredible and the bric Programme has been responsible for major changes within the Housing Executive, its clients and the areas it serves.

“Not only have we seen the building of the institutional good relations capacity of the Housing Executive staff, but we have also helped break down the physical, social and other perceived barriers experienced by residents and staff within training, mediation and a series of community-led projects across the province.”

Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of SEUPB, said:

“Bric is an excellent example of the type of work that is having a real impact in terms of tackling some of the main barriers to social cohesion within Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. Without the EU support it has received the project may not have gone ahead and the region would have lost out on the significant achievements Bric has made within the particularly challenging field of social housing.

“I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of all those involved in the delivery of the project and recognise its importance in terms of encouraging meaningful reconciliation amongst many local communities.”