Over 200 community focussed events from 128 organisers delivered the positive message that working ‘Together’ helps break down barriers and build inclusive communities for everyone.
Over 200 inspiring events by 128 local groups and organisations delivered the positive message that working ‘Together’ helps to build positive community relations across the region as part of Good Relations Week 2023.
Good Relations Week 2023 ran from Monday 18th to Sunday 24th September with a creative programme of workshops, lectures, panel discussions, talks, podcasts, film screenings, music and dance performances, storytelling, and exhibitions.
The annual celebration is co-ordinated by the Community Relations Council and supported by The Executive Office as part of the Together: Building a United Community Strategy.
The theme for this year’s Good Relations Week was a simple, yet powerful message of ‘Together’. It reinforced how working ‘Together’ is key to addressing the challenges communities face today. It was about breaking down barriers, celebrating diversity and building inclusive communities for everyone.
This year events focussed on everything from sectarianism and racism to peacebuilding, cultural expression, inclusivity, climate change, the environment and so much more.
Events included the in-person ‘Better Together’ celebration by Belfast Heath and Social Care Trust whereby working together to better promote good relations was celebrated, along with an international nursing photo exhibition and a performance from a local multicultural primary school.
The week also included a live session with local artist Paula Monoghan as she presented ‘Scribbles from the Troubles’ which reflected a child’s point of view of growing up during a time of great conflict and captured the stories and emotions from the troubles through visual art and written word.
There was a performance at the Holywell Trust in Derry/Londonderry by Kabosh Theatre Company called ‘Third Person in Our Marriage’, a piece commissioned by Relatives for Justice to mark the anniversary of the release of the Eames/Bradley Report. This short drama examined the sensitive subject of victimhood through a lens of one couple’s marriage.
In addition, the week included a theatre production by Partisan Productions, in association with Clanmil Housing, that delivered an engaging and funny production of ‘Shared?’, a meditation on the experience of living in or near a shared housing development.
Coinciding with International Day of Peace, Corrymeela presented the ‘Celebration of Difference’ in St Anne’s Cathedral. This was an evening of music and conversation which shone a light on some of the voices and lives that makes our society so unique and varied.
‘The Moving Up Moving On’ project within Forthspring Inter Community Group saw families from Springfield Primary School and St. Clare’s Primary School engage in a treasure trail which intertwined the interface in an aim to help break down barriers and encourage local families to move across interfaces.
Speaking about the success of Good Relations Week Martin McDonald MBE, Chair of the Community Relations Council, said: “Good Relations Week 2023 has been a huge success and it’s been refreshing to see the diversity and creativity of events that have been exhibited by our region this year.
“Seeing communities coming together to showcase their cultural and creative expressions have created moments when all communities can share their cultural identities to learn and promote inclusivity, cultural and creative freedom and peacebuilding.
“I’m already looking forward to Good Relations Week 2024, and I hope many have been inspired to promote and embrace good relations work to help achieve meaningful change.”
Dr. Jacqueline Irwin, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Relations Council said: “A huge thank you to all the groups and organisations who joined us in this year’s fantastic week-long celebration!
“This year’s colourful programme of over 200 events had something for everyone with workshops, lectures, podcast, theatre performances, exhibitions and so much more that examined good relations in all aspects of everyday life. We hope these celebrations have reinforced the need to embrace unity, collaboration and to inclusively work hand-in-hand to build a strong, more harmonious and safe region for everyone.”
Chris Gardner, Director of Good Relations and T:BUC Division TEO commented: “I’m delighted to hear of the success of Good Relations Week 2023 as initiatives like these are imperative to helping build a truly united community.
“This week-long celebration has played an integral role in demonstrating how coming together and collaborating helps to forge positive community relationships and these are fundamental in allowing us to work together and promote inclusive and sustainable growth.
“Thank you to the Community Relations Council and all organisations, individuals and community and voluntary groups for dedicating all their time and energy to running these great events.”
For more information on Good Relations Week 2023 visit: www.goodrelationsweek.com.