Lurgan Cross Community Project unveils 'Our Journey'

Pictured at the event are Dr Mary Gethins, Director of Shankill Parish Caring Association; Billy Gamble, International Fund for Ireland Board Member; Florence McKeever, Chair of the Springwell Centre.

A major cross-community project partnering both Unionist and Nationalist communities in Lurgan today unveiled a new booklet and artwork in the town’s Jethro Centre.

 Participants in the Understanding Our Neighbours Project produced a Quilt Artwork and the ‘Our Journey’ booklet to communicate and capture the personal journeys and challenges participants have overcome together in building community relations.

 Both items were commissioned to retell personal stories and memories of the Troubles and how attitudes and perceptions have been changed or influenced in the town. The two-year project received more than £70,000 in financial assistance from the International Fund for Ireland and brought together Lurgan’s Shankill Parish Caring Association and the Springwell Centre, the former located at what many perceive as the largely-Unionist end of the town and the latter barely a mile away in the largely-Nationalist end.

 As part of the project, both community groups took part in a series of workshops that explored culture, identity and shared history and undertook a number of historical site visits.  

 International Fund for Ireland Board Member Billy Gamble said: “This project has been ambitious with the type of contact being initiated between the two groups. A few years ago it is fair to say reconciliation-focused projects like this would simply have been unthinkable. As well as building trust and breaking down barriers in communities, this project has sought to build understanding in a manner which would not have been attempted during the height of the conflict.

 “The work here between both neighbourhoods has brought about change in community relations, citizenship and history and encouraged participants to share their beliefs, values and cultures in all aspects of life and that is what the International Fund for Ireland is all about.”

 Andrew Dunlop, Centre Manager at Shankill Parish said: “We are very thankful to the International Fund for Ireland  Intergrating Communities programme for its generous financial  assistance, managed by the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council.  The booklet and Quilt Artwork launched and unveiled today  as a result from the support we have received symbolise how far we have come together in our cross-community journey and working together for a shared future. Friendships have been formed, barriers have been broken down and we’re really excited about the wider benefits this project will bring long-term.”

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