Three estates in the Waterside have come together in a new project which will see residents benefiting from a range of joint initiatives.
The Communities Connecting project is funded through a Department for Social Development £55,000 grant, and was launched by Minister Nelson McCausland.
It has been set up as an equal partnership between Lincoln Courts Community Association, Bonds Street Community Association and Clooney Estate Residents Association and will run through until next year.
A new programme will see a raft of new initiatives including an expanded community creche and cafe initiative offering parents and carers lunch for £1 along with access to free childcare; an adult health and beauty education course; a positive parenting programme, and outings each month for just £1 per family.
For older people, a monthly bus run has started and access to luncheon clubs will be increased to three times a week across the estates, with transport provided. These projects are already helping to combat isolation among older people.
A two-week family summer scheme, meanwhile, will take place from the start of August, to include day trips to various attractions.
Communities Connecting was launched with a three-day festival staged at Ebrington Primary School. As a gesture of goodwill local singer-songwriter Jordan O’Keefe waived his fee, and a DCAL-funded marquee was loaned from the Gasyard Centre. A bonfire management scheme in conjunction with community representatives, the Fire Service, PSNI and Derry City Council meant that in Clooney there was a wood-only, tyre-free 11th night bonfire, with complaints surrounding the event dropping from 70 to just three this year.
Betty O’Reilly, project manager with Clooney Community Centre, which will soon undergo a major upgrade, said it was hoped the Communities Connecting would improve access to facilities for the 1,000 plus households in the three areas. She said: “There is a clear need in the three areas to have the services that are there better attended and also to add additional services that haven’t been here, and that’s why we have a lot of introductory programmes.”
Caroline Temple, community engagement officer with Waterside Neighbourhood Renewal praised those involved in the project and the recent festival.