Gasyard and Fountain Urban Village schemes and Eden Project Foyle visited by Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons in Derry whistle-stop tour
Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons have hailed the positive impact The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative is having in Derry.
The Junior Ministers spoke of the inspirational work taking place on the ground that is creating meaningful and lasting changes, following a visit to a number of Urban Villages-supported projects in the city on Wednesday.
The ministers visited the recently completed extension and renovation of the Cathedral Youth Club in the Fountain area, where they met Centre Manager, Jeanette Warke MBE, along with members of Gasyard Wall Féile’s Streets Alive programme.
They were provided with an update on the wide ranging Streets Alive project that works across the Bogside, Bishop Street and Fountain area, connecting and collaborating with groups to create events, exhibitions and activities that have engaged local people and created a draw for visitors into these areas.
The visited the Gasyard Centre, where they saw plans for the development of a Cultural Tourism Exhibition and renovation of community facilities that will soon be underway, and met representatives from the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum’s Resilience Programme, which has adapted during the pandemic to continue delivering services and supporting children and young people.
Ministers also took time to visit the site of the proposed Eden Project Foyle to hear about ambitious plans for the creation of a potentially transformative project to turn 225 acres of land adjacent to the River Foyle into a world class visitor destination, heritage project and educational environment.
Mr. Kearney said: “It was really great to meet so many people with a heart for supporting the communities in this part of the city, people who have a real passion and desire to improve these areas and create safer and thriving places for residents and visitors.
“We met some truly inspiring people at Cathedral Youth Club in the Fountain estate and at the Gasyard Centre in the Bogside. I was hugely impressed hearing about their experiences and how they have met the challenges presented by the pandemic and continued to meet the needs of people on the ground.
“The work of building good relations and community transformation being achieved through these projects is evident, and their contribution is to be applauded as they enable their communities to become thriving places.”
Mr. Lyons said: “It has been great to be here in the city and to visit these projects that are supported by The Executive Office’s Urban Villages Initiative.
“The future of children and young people is one of our key priorities and I was extremely impressed by projects such as Cathedral Youth Club and the Resilience Project.
“The potential of these projects is clear and it was heartening to see how these projects play such a pivotal role in supporting our young people.
“The integrated approach being taken is built on a range of partnerships and collaborations that can better connect the communities now and provide for a safer and shared future.
“I believe they can be truly transformative in improving community relations and building towards a more united and shared society.”