Andrea Carlin has been living in the Bishop Street area for more than 20 years but it’s only recently she has started to get to know her neighbours from the Fountain Estate.
Andrea and other women from Bishop Street and women from the Fountain Estate have taken part in the Peace Walls Project since last year.
The Peace Walls project operates in different areas throughout the North.
The peace wall between Bishop Street and the Fountain is still there but as a result of the project the psychological barriers between the two communities have started to disappear.
“I remember the first meeting we had as a group,” said Andrea.
“All of the women from Bishop Street were sat at one side of the table whilst all of the women from the Fountain were sat at the other.
“That was more than a year ago and things couldn’t be more different now.”
Life long friendships have flourished as a direct result of the project and every week a group of the women organise a trip to the cinema. We soon realised that we had much more in common. When we come to our weekly meetings we chat about things that normal people talk about. One of the women from the Fountain recently had a baby so it’s been all baby talk for the last few weeks,” smiled Andrea.
The women meet up every week to make arts and crafts and at the end of the year they sell the items at the Peace Walls Winter Market near Bishop’s Gate. This year’s market will take place this weekend from Friday December 19 to Sunday 20. The market is supported by the International Fund For Ireland (IFI), the Housing Executive and Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC). The Peace Walls Project is managed by TRIAX Neighbourhood Management Team.
“This project embodies everything that Housing Executive’s cohesion work strives to do – to create a common vision and sense of belonging for everyone and to value and appreciate people from different backgrounds to promote positive relations,” said the Housing Executive’s local Good Relations Officer, Eddie Breslin.
“The work that has been carried out will bring together residents from across the interface in a positive, relationship enhancing experience that will showcase the range of activities they have been engaged with in the run-up to the festival,” he added.
The market will be officially opened on Friday by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Elisha McCallion.
Mayor McCallion will be accompanied by the festive tones of the Pink Ladies’ Choir.
Day two will see Santa Claus and Mrs Claus leaving the Gasyard and driving through the Bogside, Bishop Street, the Fountain and the city centre on horse and cart. Mr and Mrs Claus will be accompanied by their elves and will arrive at the market for 1pm. There will also be live entertainment.
On the final day, the amazing Mr Scallywags Puppet Show will take place at noon and again there will be live entertainment. Over the weekend, there will be an array of handmade crafts and gifts to suit everyone. There will also be free activities including a mini waltzer, photo booth, face painting, balloon modelling and much much more.
Heritage Tours will also depart from the Winter Market at 1pm each day covering all the landmarks of the Fountain and Bishop Street areas. There will also be a quiz throughout and a prize for the winners.