Over 100 educators and community representatives met together to consider issues around community cohesion and integration.
Together, they spent an afternoon in reflection on how to build stronger community links.
The event, held at Oakgrove Integrated College was held in conjunction with Oakgrove Integrated Primary and Nursery School and the Integrated Education Fund. Around 70 community groups and representatives were invited to attend. Participants shared refreshments before hearing an overview of opportunities for community co-operation and challenges to integration. In his presentation, IEF Chair Ken Cathcart spoke of the opportunities presented by schools from diverse backgrounds and other groups working together.
Participants joined with the staff of the Oakgrove Integrated Schools to hear about each other’s work and to consider challenges in supporting young people, families and communities.
Key issues raised included: child poverty; mental health and the need for community support services and intervention; increased segregation and polarisation; successful projects which have supported the community cohesion; reconciliation; support for families.
Community Engagement was organised jointly by the Principals of Oakgrove Integrated College and Oakgrove Integrated Primary and Nursery, Katrina Crilly and Ashley Donaghey. They expressed their gratitude to the community representatives for taking part and for the opportunity to reflect and engage together. Katrina Crilly added: “Northern Ireland may be the region which has gone longest without a government, but this engagement shows that there is no shortage of ideas and enthusiasm for building this community.”
Following the event, the recommendations will be circulated around participants and shared more widely in community as a spur to further action.
* Among the community participants were: WAVE Trauma Centre; North West Methodist Mission; The Presbyterian Church; Deputy Mayor Councillor Derek Hussey, Foyle Women’s Aid Ca/ Nelson Drive Action Group; Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Good Relations Team; North West Migrants’ Forum; St Columb’s Park House; and Foyle Trust For Integrated Education.