Halloween Cultural Festival | Shared Housing

A cultural extravaganza with an international flavour took place at CS Lewis Square, with the Halloween Cultural Festival and Big Lunch.

People of all ages came together to share the aromatic smells and tastes along with the sounds and sights, with the beat of the African drums echoing in the background, to promote good relations by celebrating the diversity of cultures in Belfast.

The event was organised by Radius Housing in partnership with Apex Housing, Alternatives RJ and Eastside Arts with food, music and dance from across the globe. Alongside this was cultural storytelling and cultural arts and craft activities, including The Verbal, Tauras, Mai Tai, Arabic Tea Ceremony, Henna, Chinese Lanterns, African Clay Mask Making and Mexican Candy Skulls.

Highlighting diversity

The Halloween Cultural Festival and Big Lunch aimed to highlight the diversity across the local community and celebrate the wide range of cultures together in one space. There was engagement from BME communities, while also highlighting traditional and local culture in a positive and inclusive way from across Northern Ireland.

Radius Housing has a Shared Housing Development at Global Crescent in the Ravenhill area of Belfast, while Apex Housing manage another in Ballynafoy Close. Members of the Social Change Group who participated included tenants from both Radius and Apex Shared Housing Developments who previously completed a 1-year Lincs programme, facilitated by Alternatives on Peace Building and Good Relations and included an OCN Level 1 in Restorative Practice. They were presented with certificates of completion as part of the event.

Housing for All

The project was supported by the Department for Communities and Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s Housing for All Shared Housing Programme.

The Programme has its origins in the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Strategy which reflects Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.

Radius and Apex continue to work in partnership with local Advisory Group stakeholders, and residents to develop each scheme’s Good Relations Plan. £11 million has been invested in the Belfast shared housing developments and associated Good Relations Plans.

Speaking at the event, Sharon Traynor from Radius Housing said: “Belfast is becoming more and more vibrant and diverse, with people from across the globe now putting down roots here and calling this city their home. It is important that we provide opportunities to bring people together to share their cultures and experience with each other. Belfast is a welcoming city, which is why the Cultural Festival and Big Lunch is such a great success”

Sharon Hunt from Apex Housing Association said: “It has been a pleasure to be involved in the organising of such a vibrant and inclusive event in the heart of East Belfast. CS Lewis Square was alive with the sights, sounds and smells of cultural diversity and it was wonderful to see local people of all ages enjoying the performances, food and activities. We look forward to continuing our work in partnership with others to build even stronger community relations in the wider Ravenhill area.”

Radius Housing and Apex Housing each have 11 shared housing developments across Northern Ireland. Good Relations Plans includes “Bridging” events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Arts and Culture, Health and Wellbeing, Education and Training.