Project unites generations

Residents of all ages work together to get the dinner cooked.
Residents of all ages work together to get the dinner cooked.

When older residents in Drumsurn voiced concerns they were living in fear in their homes, the local Community Association knew it was time for action.

Association chairperson, Michelle Friel said older residents had experienced anti social behaviour and were frightened but, thanks a unique project funded by the Housing Executive, older and younger people have united to resolve the problem.

“The ‘Together As One’ project has helped reduce anti-social behaviour and build positive relationships between generations living in the village of Drumsurn. Older people told us they had a real fear of anti-social behaviour,” said Ms Friel.

“There had been a number of incidents, including eggs being thrown at their windows and that sort of thing. So, when we spoke to young people, they said they had nothing to do.”

Six workshops have been held, illustrating the impact of anti-social behaviour.

The sessions were held with the younger people before older people were invited to join the group. The community group also organised a number of inter-generational activities including a trip to Crumlin Road jail, fishing trips and cookery evenings, led by a local chef.

“All the ideas for the project came from the residents. We wanted to do things where conversations between the generations could take place,” said Ms Friel. “On the fishing trips, there was plenty of time to talk to each other. The same with baking and cooking, time to chat and get to know each other while learning something useful.”

Ms Friel said hailed the project a success.

“Since the project began the relationships in the estate have changed dramatically, the younger generation is much more respectful of their older neighbours,” she said. “Most of the anti-social behaviour has stopped now and, in turn, our older residents feel much less fearful now. Friendships have developed between these generations and that has been fantastic to see.”

Housing Executive Causeway Area Manager, Brendan Doherty, said: “It’s wonderful to see a community project making such a difference to local people’s lives. We work to build communities that are welcoming to everyone and it’s vitally important that residents feel safe and secure in their own homes. We hope this project will have a positive and lasting effect in the Drumsurn community.”

The project culminated with young people cooking a Christmas dinner for their older neighbours.