Bonfire alternative ‘a success’

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Community workers in the Ballymagroarty area have said they believe a strategy developed as an alternative to bonfires could be used in other parts of the city.

Members of the Ballymagroarty and Hazlebank Community Partnership (BHCP) and Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) worked together to develop a programme of events for young people in the Ballymagroarty area in order to provide an alternative to bonfires.

In previous years a bonfire had been built on the Ringfort Road on August 15th and local residents had raised concerns about anti-social behaviour.

There was no bonfire in the area this year.

Mark Doherty from CRJ said the results of a survey carried out in the area showed that local people wanted an alternative to bonfires in their area.

“We worked with other community groups from the Outer North community safety forum to come up with a programme of events to meet the demands of local residents that they did not want a bonfire,” he said.

John Devine from BHCP said young people were also involved in coming up with alternatives to bonfires.

“We involved the young people themselves to find out what they wanted to do and we came up with an eleven week programme which involved them learning about the impact bonfires had on the community, the emergency services, and the environment.

“The young people taking part signed a commitment that they would not be involved in gathering material for bonfires,” he said.

Mr Doherty said ideas towards bonfires have changed in the area.

“Older people often look back nostalgically at the bonfires from when they were young but times have changed and in recent years they have become hotspots for anti-social behaviour.

“People came out to watch a bonfire because it was there but what we have found is that if they are presented with an alternative they are more than happy to support it. We believe this can be applied across the city,” he said.