Equity Diversity Interdependence
Promoting a Peaceful and Fair
Society based on Reconciliation
and Mutual Trust.
Group Profile - Inter-Action Belfast
Inter-Action Belfast, (formerly Springfield Inter-Community Development Project, SICDP) is located on what is known as the Shankill/Falls interface in West Belfast. The mission of SICDP is “to initiate, encourage and enable inter-community development and community action along the West Belfast interface”. in doing so promote greater understanding, reduce community divisions along the Springfield / Falls / Shankill interfaces and improve the quality of life of interface communities.
The project originated in 1988 when a number of community activists from Shankill (Protestant) and Falls (Catholic) Roads began to question the effectiveness of the previous 20 years of cross community work. While friendships were established between some individuals from both sides it seemed that, despite all the efforts and considerable expenditure over the years, the 'peace wall' was growing longer and higher and tensions between the two communities were worsening daily. It was clear that there was a need for a radically new approach, which would address the totality of the problems facing the communities on the interface.
Interface communities have suffered disproportionately over the period of the conflict and are among the most socially excluded communities in our society. The geographical areas in which the project operates have been consistently identified in successive surveys as areas of acute disadvantage and chronic need. The 12 government wards within our remit are in the worst 20% of deprivation in Northern Ireland. Severe problems brought on by unemployment, bad housing, poverty, poor health and poor education achievement are made worse by a spiralling crime situation and the suffering brought about by high levels of politically motivated violence and sectarianism.
The work of the project is solidly rooted in key community development principles: empowerment, community participation and the right of individuals and groups to have a say in the decisions, which affect their lives. In terms of interface communities, these principals are particularly important, as these communities have been the most marginalised and neglected. Interface work is painstaking and we concentrate much more on relationship building and developing processes through which communities can engage with each other. It is paramount that we build trust between communities that have been at the hard edge of sectarianism and violence over the past 30 plus years.
There are 5 key aims of the project:
To advance our understanding of the causes of, and test new responses to, deep-rooted violent conflict.
To facilitate social, political, cultural, and economic regeneration within the specified target areas.
To promote new approaches, which might assist movement toward the resolution of our conflict to government, statutory agencies, institutions, groups and individuals without distinction, as and when appropriate.
Support, and initiate where necessary, community development practice and structures designed to respond to the needs and the potential of the project communities.
To test the effectiveness of new models of inter-community practice based on a community development framework, in confronting tensions between the communities along the Springfield/Shankill/Falls interface in West Belfast.
Our new strategic plan identifies 7 key areas of work in which we work on a year round basis through a range of community development projects such as the mobile phone network; parallel development work on each side of the interface; cross border work; action research; debates and Think Tanks publications; divisionary youth summer schemes; training; facilitation of resident's association; funding support for groups; lobbying.
Successes to date
Expanding mobile phone network that has support from the local communities
Establishment of the Springfield Intercommunity Forum
Progress on parades issue
Development of a representative Board of Directors and pool of voluntary workers
Management of urban renewal programme benefiting grassroots community organisations
Reduction of interface violence
Recognised model of good practice
Relationship building programme among community activists facilitated by Brian Currin
Successful cross border project
Establishment of cultural exchange programme
Inter-Action Belfast, Farset Enterprise Park, 638 Springfield Road, Belfast, BT12 7DY
(T) 028 90 236 839
(F) 028 90 333864