Ormeau Park Bowling Pavilion was filled with the sights, sounds and smells from across the globe on as the first International Big Lunch took place during Good Relations Week 2021.
The event, organised by Apex Housing Association and Radius Housing Association, with the support of Belfast City Council, brought together tenants from the Ravenhill Shared Housing Developments and participants from a range of backgrounds in the wider community.
The project was supported through the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) Strategy and the Department for Communities Shared Housing Programme.
Alongside tasty foods from multiple countries, the event celebrated the cultural diversity of the south and east Belfast areas, with performances and crafts drawn from across the world.
In organising the event, Apex and Radius worked with a range of local community and voluntary and faith-based organisations, who work with BME groups, refugee and asylum seekers and indigenous families in the Ravenhill area. The key aim of the event was to help participants learn about a range of cultures through the medium of food, dance, music and craft.
Speaking at the event, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, said: “The Executive is committed to building a shared society, and providing shared housing with associated Good Relations events such as this, is an important component of that. The Ballynafoy Close and Global Crescent shared housing developments in the Ravenhill area of Belfast demonstrates the commitment of delivering an ambitious shared housing programme. I want to build more high quality housing developments, including shared schemes and hold further Good Relations events to bring our communities together, consistent with New Decade New Approach.”
Radius Housing’s Director of Communities, Loma Wilson added: “The areas of south and east Belfast are among the most diverse communities in Northern Ireland, which is why events like the International Big Lunch are so important. Today we have seen people from far and wide across the world who have made this community their home, along with people who have been born and bred here, coming together to sample the taste of so many cultures.”
Sheena McCallion, Chief Executive of Apex Housing Association, commented: “It’s a pleasure to be here at today’s event to witness the coming together of so many different cultures in the heart of Belfast. Ballynafoy Close was the very first shared housing development in Northern Ireland and its tenants welcomed the choice to live together, acting as pioneers in the development of shared communities. It’s wonderful to see those tenants here today at such a vibrant and inclusive event, helping to build even stronger community relations in the wider Ravenhill area.