Good Relations Week, the Community Relations Council’s annual celebration of peace building and cultural diversity work, will kick off today (Monday 20th, September) with the launch of a powerfully moving music track by local singer-songwriter ROE that will ignite more than 250 events province-wide.
The colourful programme will highlight this year’s theme, ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ while championing the voices, needs and challenges of young people across the region.
Derry~Londonderry music artist, Roisin Donald, who goes by the stage name ROE, has been appointed ambassador for the cross-community and multicultural celebration and has penned a track that will illustrate her interpretation of the ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ theme.
Good Relations Week 2021 will run from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th September and will feature face-to-face events, virtual events and online content that tackle issues such as sectarianism, racism and other forms of identity hatred.
They will shine a light on the impact of cultural diversity and dealing with the continuing impact of the past, as well offering insights into mental health, isolation, education, faith, the pandemic, and the environment.
Covering a wide geography, the programme features everything from the launch of a music video by young people in Newry to raise awareness of the need to reduce carbon emissions for a sustainable future, the real-life re-enactment of 1950s Irish Traveller life to the unveiling of a Covid quilt created across the community divide, and from a talk by a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide.
It will also include the launch of a major new art installation on the exterior of the Ulster Museum in Belfast, a series of visual and musical performances by young people with learning disabilities, and a storytelling event to create mutual understanding between LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ communities.
A pop-up Gaeltacht village and a video project that shines a light on a Belfast-based collective providing a voice for the local skating community will also feature alongside a host of workshops, lectures, discussion panels and music and theatre performances.
Speaking about her new role as ambassador, ROE said: “I am delighted to become ambassador for Good Relations Week and write a song especially for the event.
“Good Relations Week is about discussing mental health and everything else that impacts our young people including sectarianism, racism, cultural diversity, isolation, education and the environment. It helps break down barriers and act as a catalyst for meaningful change and I would urge all young people here to be part of it. This is such a great opportunity to use your voice and be heard.”
Roe’s new material, scripted especially for Good Relations Week, will send out a message that there are “Brighter Days Ahead and even though you might not feel so good right now, there is always something better ahead,” she adds.
Martin McDonald MBE, Chair of the Community Relations Council, said: “Society has endured a very challenging 18 months and our young people have not been immune to those difficulties. In fact, the pandemic has compounded the many existing issues already facing our young people and this event will allow those issues to be aired, processed and discussed.
“It will also explore how society can better meet the needs of young people, including mental health issues, isolation, education and abuse motivated by sectarianism, racism and other forms of identity hatred.
“We look forward to kicking off this very diverse programme of events and welcoming the young people of NI to Good Relations Week 2021.”
Jacqueline Irwin, Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council said: “Good Relations Week 2021 comes in the midst of one of the most challenging periods for young people in our recent history.
“We want our diverse programme to act as an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced by young people and also highlight the challenges that have been in existence for many years prior to the pandemic.
“Our participating event hosts have confronted issues that include racism, cultural diversity as well as equality and peace building.
“Having ROE as ambassador create a soundtrack for the event will place focus on the importance of looking ahead with a positive mindset and embrace our theme of Brighter Days Ahead.
“We would encourage all young people to check out our list of events during the week and take part to allow their voices to be heard.”
Good Relations Week is supported by The Executive Office and contributes to delivering the Together: Building a United Community Strategy. The week is organised by a steering committee comprising Department for Communities, Department of Justice, Education Authority, Libraries NI, Cathedral Quarter Trust and The Nerve Centre.
For more information on the Good Relations Week 2021 programme of events and content, visit www.goodrelationsweek.com or keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #GRWeek2021.
- North Belfast Interface Network is launching a booklet that documents the experiences of local residents during the pandemic. The launch will include the presentation of a COVID quilt with each square on the Quilt depicting each story in the booklet. The project is delivered in partnership between Twaddell, Ardoyne and Shankill communities in transition and Duncairn Community Partnership project.
- Counterpart is a major new art installation on the exterior of the Ulster Museum in Belfast, bringing attention to prevalent issues in society through a unique shared space that is open and accessible to all. The work has been created by acclaimed street artist Joe Caslin as part of the Making the Future project at National Museums NI
- Here NI is hosting a workshop to give an overview of language and terminology in relation to Sexual Orientation, discuss the impact of homophobia and how to address barriers, and introduce ways to be more inclusive of LGBTQ+ parents and their children.
- Holywell Trust is hosting a panel discussion comprised of past and present participants of the Future Leaders Programme, focused on their aspirations and ambitions for the future of community work and peacebuilding activities in the North-West.
- Falls Women's Centre, Shankill Women’s Centre and Community Relations Forum in Newtownabbey have teamed up to host Brighter Days Ahead - Women Sing the Future, a shared celebration of women's achievements through cross-community programmes. Women are invited to sing, read stories or poems, dance and share experiences.
- Forthspring Inter Community Group and Belfast Multi-Cultural Association will bring together 10 women from across Belfast to share their life journey and experiences in a story telling arena. The stories will reflect the challenges of daily life in modern Belfast, as well as hopes and aspirations for the future.
- Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality is hosting a multi-disciplinary virtual Art Exhibition with visual images, poetry, words, music and discussion. The exhibition is inspired by an artistic response to peace, health and well-being, influences of the pandemic, and themes of health and happiness intersecting with new borders of time and space in a changing landscape.
- Libraries NI is partnering with the Black Box to host a live visual and musical performances by young people with learning disabilities, providing the performers with an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a live audience after lockdown.
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Notes to Editors
Good Relations Week is organised by the Community Relations Council. It supports the aims and objectives NI Executive’s Good relations Strategy, Together: Building a United Community by providing a platform for the 300 groups and organisations, many grant supported by the Community Relations Council, as well as statutory bodies such as the Education Authority, Libraries NI and the 11 local Councils to showcase the good work they are doing in their local area in the field of community relations and cultural diversity. It is about inspiring new projects, promoting understanding, respect and engagement between all sections of our society to tackle sectarianism and racism.