The Housing Executive, working alongside Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, has officially launched the Local Area Network Programme for Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne – an EU funded cross-border initiative designed to support peace and reconciliation.
With funding of over £450,000, this Local Area Network (LAN) is one of 14 peace projects in the Mid and East Antrim area supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), but the real work will be happening on the ground in local areas by people living and working in the communities of Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne.
Local Area Networks (LAN) will establish a network of people from different communities who are committed to building good positive relations and work with areas identified to be part of the project to ‘engage, enable and empower’.
With around 30 people in each Local Area Network, the project will offer training to provide new skills, all groups will take part in ‘myth busting’ sessions to learn from each other, community celebrations will take place and participation in a special Messines Programme will also be available.
The LAN groups in Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne have all been formed and will meet monthly. They are in the process of completing a good relations plan, and will also host each other as the programme evolves, share best practice and enjoy visits to learn more about different cultures and traditions that are living in the local communities.
The launch event was attended by over 60 people from the local communities of Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne, who had the opportunity to meet other members of LANs and have a chat over lunch.
Chair of the Peace Partnership, Alderman Maureen Morrow, said: “The LAN programme has so much potential to keep conversations alive at a local level, making a real difference in bringing our local communities together for the benefit of the Mid and East Antrim area.”
The Housing Executive’s Mid & East Antrim Area Manager, Mairead Myles Davey also addressed the audience and thanked everyone for supporting the Local Area Networks. She said:
“These Local Area Network groups are all part of the Peace IV Programme, which is an EU funded cross-border initiative designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border region.
“Our ethos is to engage, enable and empower. We want to connect people and communities, facilitate training, visits and events, and empower communities to be more confident and commit to positively contributing to society.
“We also want to acknowledge those communities who have already been working towards becoming genuine shared spaces, and help them sustain their good work.”
The LAN Projects are scheduled to run until March 2020.