From NI Gordon, Karen and Trish write: There is a definite sense of some degree of return to normality for us in ‘Soulspace’ in both of the interface communities in which we work. It is an important facet of our work that we are embedded alongside existing community organisations and support and partner where we can. We now operate in two locations in the city, Forthspring Intercommunity Project in west Belfast and the Duncairn Arts Centre in north Belfast. Both centres had closed for much of the pandemic but now are beginning to reopen to the communities around them and so we can return to our face-to-face work which had been largely suspended over the last year. Our model of ministry, which is a chaplaincy model, relies on proximity and relationship building.
Our foodbank, in which we partner with the local residents’ group, has also been well used over recent months with many people from across the communities accessing food and help with gas and electric payment cards. We have partnered with the residents’ group in a variety of projects, the most recent of which was a clean up and window box planting over the summer.
In both of our locations we are engaging with the challenge of what it means to build the peace between the two communities on either side of the peace walls and separate areas.
One of our more interesting projects came as a result of a particularly aggressive critic of Karen’s, who accused her of being a ‘Bizarre Feminist Character’, a description which Karen then subverted and turned into an amazingly successful fundraising campaign for Womens’ Aid through selling t-shirts with the phrase printed on them. We raised £1500 for the charity and are now on our second run of the t-shirts.