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Social Affairs magazine for community/voluntary sector Website:

Issue 18, 2013


For FREE at

• VIEW talks to Barnardo’s about child sex exploitation pages four and five

Twitter: @ViewforNI


VIEW, issue 18, 2013

Culture Night


Hitting out


Page 6-7 VIEW takes a look at the recent Culture Night in Belfast as the city rocked to a feast of art and music

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Page 12 UNISON NI’s Patricia McKeown tells the NICEM conference that the “peace process has failed us”

Building links

Homeless plea

Page 8 A conference will discuss the community/voluntary sector in Northern Ireland and the Republic next month

Page 16 Depaul Ireland’s Kerry Anthony urges us all to redouble our efforts to help the homeless in the wake of two tragic deaths

Staying sober

Fun festival

Pages 10-11 Philip talks to VIEW about his battle with alcoholism and how he is now attempting to stay sober and slowly rebuild his life

Page 20 Actress Nuala McKeever at the launch of the Belly Laughs festival which will run in Belfast from September 25 to October 6

PHoToLinE Photographer Kevin cooper has more than 25 years experience in Press and Pr photography. Kevin works to a wide range of clients in community and voluntary sector organisations as well as the trade union movement. For quoTaTions conTacT Kevin cooper E: T: 028 90777299 M: 07712044751


VIEW, the online publication for the community/voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.


hild sexual exploitation is not a new phenomenon but it is an issue that has, rightly, demanded our attention over the past few weeks. Because of the insidious nature of this type of abuse, those who work closely with young people talk of ‘lifting the stone and looking underneath’ to find it.Traumatised young victims, often groomed into feeling complicit in their exploitation, find it painfully difficult to talk about their experiences. In fact, so cunning and manipulative are these abusers that the young people sometimes believe they are willing participants in a loving relationship, with abusers chillingly posing as ‘friends’ or ‘boyfriends’. The children’s charity Barbardo’s has long spoken out about this and in 2011 published a report into the sexual exploitation of young people in Northern Ireland, Not A World Away. It found that two-thirds of girls in care were at risk – and that half of these chil-

VIEW editor Lucy Gollogly dren were only put at risk after they went into care. Two years after the report, the PSNI are at last conducting an overarching investigation into the problem. It follows a review of cases of young people missing from the care system over the past 18 months. Officers have identified 22 potential victims.

Thirty people have been arrested, although only a small number have so far appeared in court. Campaigners and those who work with vulnerable young people have warned that this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, and that it is not just young people in care who are being targeted. The health minister Edwin Poots last week came under heavy criticism from Sinn Fein health committee chair Maeve McLaughlin for not acting on the recommendations of the Barnardo’s report. The Voice of Young People in Care charity last week warned against political squabbling and point-scoring over the issue, and appealed for the focus to return to the victims. That must happen – but the pressure must remain on the PSNI, the government and other agencies to ensure that gangs of sex abusers can no longer operate in this society, seemingly without much fear of prosecution.

VIEW, issue 18, 2013


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Catriona Couston – PR executive for Prince’s Trust Your ideal job? Travelling around luxury holiday destinations and reviewing them.

1. What is your position and how long have you worked there?

Hugh Jackman, Sharon Osborne, Mo Mowlam, Jack Nicholson and Marilyn Monroe.

I work as a PR executive for the Prince's Trust and I’ve been there for two years.

5. Favourite holiday location and why?

2. Your favourite film? That’s a hard one... there’s quite a few, mainly comedies, but I suppose my favourite is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Michael Caine and Steve Martin. I never get tired of watching it even though I know every line by heart. The ‘twist’ at the end is so clever – I just wish they would make a sequel. 3.Your favourite book or author? Anything written by Marian Keyes is a great read for me. Her characters become real people and her descriptions of the situations they find themselves in, no matter how dire, are always hilarious. I always feel better after reading just a few chapters. 4.Five ideal guests for a dinner party alive or deceased?

I love the Greek Islands but my favourite is Santorini – especially the resort of Oia. The hotels are built into the cliffs, all painted white and blue, with the most amazing views over the caldera. The closest place to paradise on earth. 6. Most embarrassing moment. On holiday last year when I slipped off the stage at a karaoke session – but I got back on and finished the song! 7. What expression do you use more than most? Overdrawn again 8. Who has been your biggest inspiration to date? It hasn’t been one particular person. The young people that come through Prince’s Trust have

really opened my eyes to how, with support and encouragement, even the most disadvantaged can turn their lives around and really g et their lives on track. It’s a privilege to work with them. 9. Pet hate? People eating with their mouths open – yeuch. 10. Favourite TV show? Anything with Sarah Beeny in it – she’s down to earth, a great businesswoman, a brilliant multi-tasker, driven and full of great ideas. 11. Your ideal job? Travelling around luxury holiday destinations and reviewing them. 12. Tell us a joke? A man walks into a pet shop and says “Give me a wasp.” The shopkeeper says, “We don’t sell wasps.” Man says, “There’s one in the window.”

VIEW, issue 17, 2013


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One young victim told of how she ‘felt surrounded by darkness’ As the PSNI launch a new probe into child sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland, Jacqui Montgomery Devlin from Barnardo’s’ Safe Choices tells Lucy Gollogly that victims often feel anger, frustration, shame and mistrust


ne young girl who had suffered child sexual exploitation described her experience as “a very small thumbnail surrounded by darkness”. She is just one of the children that Jacqui Montgomery Devlin from Barnardo’s’ Safe Choices service tries to protect from exploitation. She said: “One of the younger children we worked with described how she felt when this was happening to her. “She described it as a very small thumbnail surrounded by darkness and that’s what she drew – because often these children can’t verbalise how they are feeling or what is happening to them. “I thought it was quite significant and poignant – she felt surrounded by darkness, blackness, and had a sense of powerlessness.” The majority of young people Safe Choices work with are aged between 12 and 16, although some are just nine or 10. Most are girls, although Ms Montgomery Devlin said she believed boys were also being targeted. She said victims often feel anger, frustration, shame and mistrust, especially as

Problem: Jacqui Montgomery Devlin they frequently and mistakenly believe they were to blame in some way. “They feel that because they went to this party or took the drugs and alcohol off this person or they sent these images that they are

to blame – so they have a lot of shame and it makes it very difficult for them to talk initially.” Ms Montgomery Devlin said child sexual exploitation remained a “hidden problem” and something that all agencies working with young people need to be actively looking for. “We would talk about lifting the stone and looking underneath and you have to do that proactively to see it and really grasp the scale and nature of the problem,” she said. A major police investigation into the issue is currently under way, something that Ms Montgomery Devlin welcomed. Officers are investigating reports that 22 teenagers, who went missing from children's homes, were sexually exploited. There have already been more than 30 arrests. “It’s good that everybody is recognizing that it is an issue in Northern Ireland. I don’t think any agency is denying any responsibility now. They are all coming on board – they see something needs to be done,” she said. Two years ago, a Barnardo’s report called Not A World Away found two-thirds of girls in care homes were at risk.

VIEW, issue 16, 2013

It made a number of recommendations, including that tackling child sexual exploitation be made a priority in the PSNI’s Policing Plan. That did not happen and there has been criticism from some quarters that action has been slow in coming – the chair of the Stormont health committee, Maeve McLaughlin, last week said of the current investigation: “We need to have been doing all of this much, much better, much, much earlier.” The Sinn Fein MLA added: “There are lessons for the PSNI, lessons for the minister for justice and certainly for the community at large.” There have been suggestions that paramilitaries are involved in child sexual exploitation. Ms Montgomery Devlin said it was difficult to confirm this, but that the perception could be as damaging as the reality. “Perpetrators of this abuse will use real power or perceived power to groom, threaten and coerce their victims. “They might have said to a young person, I’m such and such in whatever paramilitary group – whether they are or not might be irrelevant if


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in Care (VOYPIC) has appealed for an end to the squabbling among politicians over the child exploitation issue. Chief executive Vivian McConvey said: “We need the energy around that debate maintained but focused on the young people and focused in making the systems work.” “I take heart from the fact that a conversation has now started so that we can better understand child sexual exploitation. That conversation has to continue and we have to bring about change so that we identify young people at risk faster and we’re more effective in supporting them," she added.

Lessons: Maeve McLaughlin that is sufficient to make that young person scared and coerce them into continuing whatever they are being coerced into doing.” Meanwhile, the charity Voice of Young People

• If you need help or support or you are concerned that a young person is being sexually exploited, call Barnardo’s on 02890 658 511 or the NSPCC helpline on 0800 389 1701. •You can also report the matter to the PSNI directly on 0845 600 8000 and you will be put in contact with a specially trained police officer who will speak to you confidentially.

VIEW, issue 18, 2013


Night of culture as Reverend Billy comes to town By Joseph Pelan nd the Lord said: “Behold, they are one people, and they have ACulture all one language.” Night 2013 hath come down upon us good folk of Ulster

and in its wake left a warm memory in the collective hearts and minds of Belfast’s usually culture-starved population. Sadly for all, news spread fast that Our Beloved Democracy had died on September 20 in Donegall Street, Belfast. Thankfully, New York anti-consumerist activist and performer Bill Talen (aka Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping) was on hand to conduct a two-step forward approach to the Death Of Democracy in a Louisiana-themed funeral procession. The next cabal of artistic activists proceeded to march through Royal Avenue in a high octane drum performance featuring dancers and mobile graffiti floats. Completing the display was a mouse-wheeled mobile fire horse from hell. Fittingly well overdue, the last mention of the evening goes to the Cathedral quarter’s slowest bike race and the musical sounds at the Tivoli barber shop in Lower North Street. Hopefully next year, the power of Babel will help prosper a more modern, progressive city as Culture Night again reaches its lofty heights, unless God or Ulster sees otherwise.

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CITY BEAT: clockwise from above: The Reverend Billy Talena, a music session in the Tivoli barber shop in Lower North Street, street scene in Royal Avenue and performers and the slowest bike ride in the Cathedral quarter Images: Brian Pelan

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Better cross-border links on the agenda A

conference looking at how the community and voluntary sectors in Northern Ireland and the Republic can learn from each other is due to take place next month. The event, organised by the Building Change Trust, will focus on the issues raised in a report by Andy Pollak and Brian Harvey of the Centre for Cross Border Studies. The study, the Potential for Cross Border Exchange and Learning in Respect of Change in the Community and Voluntary Sector, concluded that a higher level of cross-border cooperation could help minimise waste and duplication and encourage innovation in the sector. A panel of experts will give their views on the report, followed by an open debate on the issues raised. The panel members are Dr Avila Kilmurray of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, Deirdre Garvey of the Wheel, Breege Lenihan of County Monaghan Community Network, Seamus McAleavey of NICVA, Pete Sheridan from Co-operation Ireland and Paddy Logue. Nigel McKinney, the Building Change Trust’s

Crucial: Nigel McKinney director of operations, said: “With government funding shrinking and social need ever-increasing, the role of the community and voluntary sector has never been more crucial. At the Trust we are dedicated to the development of the sector in Northern Ireland, and learning from developments elsewhere in the UK and Ireland is important.

“Much of the learning about change in the sector understandably comes from elsewhere in the UK but given the impact of the recession south of the border and the response of the state and civil society organisations, we think there may be advantages for the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland to learn from those developments. “There are innumerable cultural, social and historical similarities as well as important differences between the two jurisdictions, and bringing sector representation together allows us to look at, in detail, the lessons we can learn from one another. “These lessons are not only in building and maintaining peace, but also in the development of a wide range of services, community development, the growth of philanthropy and better interaction with government and local authorities.” The event takes place on Friday, October 18 at the Canal Court Hotel, Newry, starting with registration at 10.30am and closing at 1pm with a networking lunch.  To register for the event go to

Volunteer fair to be held at Millennium Forum THE volunteer fair organised by Derry City Council’s KickStart to Work Programme in partnership with the North West Volunteer Centre will be held at the Millennium Forum in Derry on Wednesday, September 25, from 10.00am to 5.00pm. It will be the largest volunteering event in the north west of Ireland, with up to 40 groups expected to promote their activities and

encourage people to ‘Say YES to Volunteering’. Jacqueline Garnon, manager, North West Volunteer Centre, said: “Volunteering is a key part of community life here in the city. We at the North West Volunteer Centre know just how much volunteering enhances the lives of local people and in turn helps our communities to grow and develop. “I would encourage everyone, especially

young people, to get involved and during this special year of culture in our city is the perfect time to get involved. Whether it’s to meet new people, learn new skills or to give something back, volunteering is for everybody.” Contact Geoff at the North West Volunteer Centre on tel. 028 7127 1017 or email to find out more about this event.

Practical advice and a sensitive personal approach. We pride ourselves on our unrivalled commitment to clients’ needs.

Edwards & Co. solicitors advises charities and the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland on a wide range of legal issues including charity creation, charitable status and constitutional matters, trading and commercial arrangements, employment law, finance, fundraising and property law, as well as dealing with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. Our team offers a full range of legal services including mediation, criminal law, clinical negligence and personal injury claims, as well as family/matrimonial work.

Contact Jenny and Teresa: Edwards & Co. Solicitors, 28 Hill Street, Belfast, BT1 2LA. Tel: (028) 9032 1863 Email: Web:

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‘Philip’ slowly rebuilds his life after long battle with alcohol addiction Lucy Gollogly talks to ‘Philip’ who lost his fiancee, home and livelihood because of a drinking problem. Now sober, he is receiving counselling and support at First Housing’s Ramona House in Omagh


few years ago, Philip*, 32, from Omagh was living “a life beyond his wildest dreams”. That was before alcohol addiction overwhelmed him, costing him his relationship, home and livelihood. In his mid-twenties, Philip was working in construction. Like many young men, he drank heavily at the weekends. He only realized he had a problem when the work began to dry up. “I was slowly becoming unemployable, to be honest,” he said. “You couldn’t depend on me to turn in and if I did turn in I could be under the influence or go home early.”

He sought help at Ramona House, a rehabilitation centre in Omagh. But he could not quite beat his addiction and often slipped back into his old ways. However, he was sober when, during a weekend trip to the Republic of Ireland, he met the woman who was to become his fiancée. He eventually moved south to be with her, and quickly found work with a company that runs underground car parks. “Even though I wasn’t earning a huge amount of money, it was good, I was sober, and we were paying the bills. My ex had a good job as well.” Philip started buying and selling used cars in

his spare time, and the business took off. He was able to quit his job and the couple bought a luxury home. “You often hear about a life beyond your wildest dreams – at one stage I didn’t need anything. I could have anything I wanted, within reason. “But looking back on it, I didn’t. I hit that dull patch where all of a sudden, the sports cars, the luxury 4X4s, the good clothes, the weekends away – they weren’t doing it for me. I wanted that extra kick. It was my addiction. It was really going to town on me.” Although he was still hiding his problem from friends and business contacts, Philip was

VIEW, issue 18, 2013

beginning to realise the extent of it. “Whenever I started drinking heavily again, you’d see other people and you’d know they were, as I call them, seasoned drinkers. “And I was thinking, there’s really no difference between me and that man at the end of the bar. We’re both in this bar at half ten in the morning for a reason.” Inevitably Philip’s car business was suffering. “For starters, I was drunk most mornings. And I wasn’t fit to get into the Jeep and head away to buy anything to sell. “And to be honest all I wanted at that stage was the drink.” By last September, it became too much for


Philip’s fiancée and she left him. A few months later, at Christmas, he hit his lowest ebb. “I had no money, there was a bit of drink lying in the house, and there was no food – nothing. And I thought, how am I ever going to get out of this? So I had to head home. I had no option. My sister accepted me in but on the condition that I went straight to the detox clinic.” Philip completed a detox and counselling programme in Ramona House early this year. Now he is slowly rebuilding his life. The supported accommodation in which he lives is run by First Housing, one of four organisations in Northern Ireland that recently

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received £3.5m from the Big Lottery Fund to tackle alcohol abuse. He is studying for A-levels and eventually hopes to train as a lawyer or legal mediator. His college work is giving him hope for the future. “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it,” he said. “But my priority now is staying sober and trying to build my life back up again.” • For more information contact Ramona House, 96 Circular Road, Omagh, BT79 7HA. Phone: 028 82252730. Website: * not his real name.

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Patricia McKeown, Regional Secretary of UNISON Northern Ireland, delivers her speech at the NICEM conference Image: Willis McBriar

The people we put faith in to take this peace process forward have failed us

Lucy Gollogly reports on the NICEM 15th Human Rights and Equality conference


he Stormont government has become “totally dysfunctional over pursuing the agenda on equality and human rights”, according to leading trade unionist Patricia McKeown. Ms McKeown, Regional Secretary of UNISON NI and co-convener of the Equality Commission, said political leaders had failed to fulfill the commitments to equality in the Good Friday Agreement. “The people we put faith in to take this peace process forward have failed us and are now totally dysfunctional,” she said. She added: “If it isn’t going to produce a different product that really tackles discrimination and inequality and the absence of rights in this society then why the hell do we want it? “There are easier ways of attacking the enemy than voting it in using a very complex set of arrangements for governance that isn’t taking place.” Speaking at the NICEM 15th annual Human Rights and Equality Conference on September 20 in Belfast, she said inequality had widened since 2007. Ms McKeown said protections against discrimination and human rights became “highly expendable” in times of economic recession. She said while modest inroads had been

Action call: Patrick Yu made on issues including LGBT rights and educational disadvantage, substantial inequalities on the basis of gender, race, class, age, disability and sexual orientation remained. “What worries me is that we are now living in a place where even the enforcement agencies are not enforcing the rights and are not using the tools the way they should,” she said. “We would not be living in the world we are living in now with disadvantage upon disadvantage piling up on the same groups in this society if we had a Bill of Rights and a genuine commitment to it. Where is the

demand from any part of the political system for that very vital piece of the Good Friday Agreement to be enacted?” She said united action by communities, trade unions and some politicians had tackled direct rule and some of the worst excesses of Thatcher, and demonstrated what could achieved by working together. “We are not gelling together as we once did. We need to forget about where the grant money is coming from and start biting the hand that feeds us and telling them that they aren’t feeding us enough.” The event also saw the launch of the revised NICEM Racial Equality Audit, which sets standards on achieving racial equality within NGOs and other organisations. NICEM Executive Director Patrick Yu said that despite the establishment of bodies including the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission, a Bill of Rights was urgently needed to tackle racial and other forms of inequality. “The Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, the legacy of the past, the complex cultural and social rights which are the essential components under Chapter Six (of the Good Friday Agreement) to heal, reconcile and reconstruct a new society are still missing,” Mr Yu said.

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Bringing VIEW to CultureTECH

Li Xhen Yu, left, with Sharon Atkinson and Blair Anderson. They are all backing Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme. The charity want a chance to blow the socks off potential employers so they are sending them out some socks as a reminder of all the simple steps they can take to help young people into employment. If you received some in the post, it just means young people like the three young women above want to follow in your footsteps.

Voices raised in support of children’s right to play A major conference on Children’s Right to Play will be held in Belfast in October. The two day ‘Driving The Play Agenda event has been organised by children and young people’s play agency, PlayBoard. Speakers include leading campaigners for children’s right to play including Sue Palmer who said: “All real children’s play involves an element of risk, and the more real play children are allowed the better they become at analysing and managing those risks. “If, on the other hand, adults try to eliminate risk from their lives they’re likely to grow up either unduly wreckless or hopelessly timid.” BELONG, a family support programme for black and ethnic minority children recently arranged for seven to twelve year olds from the South Down Family Health Initiative in Warrenpoint, Co Down to tell Newry and Mourne District Council about their experiences of play, as part of the BELONG ‘Hear My Voice’ project. They used ‘PhotoVoice’ - participatory photography and digital storytelling – to highlight their concerns about the right to play. Using photographs of the beach, play-park and boarded up buildings they explained how smelly bins in the

play park, glass on the beach and boarded up buildings all affected their opportunities for them to play outside. Deirdre McAliskey of BELONG said: “In this project we wanted children to look at issues around play, to identify these for themselves as rights issues but also to make connections for them with the decision-makers and people who have responsibility to children to fulfil their right to play.” Mayor of Newry and Newry Councillor Michael Ruane said that it was important to get children to put down their computer games and play outdoors as well as hear children’s views about play areas. “If there are spaces we are missing that we are not seeing as adults or as councillors or whatever authority it may be, it is important that we take on board any views the children may have and if there is something out there that we haven’t seen then let them will tell us about it,” he said. Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland, said: “This group of young people have outlined many places and spaces in Warrenpoint and how with the help of the council some things could be changed.”

VIEWdigital Community Interest Company ( which publishes VIEW social affairs magazine and runs media training workshops for the community and voluntary sector recently took part in CultureTECH Junior and gave free workshops as part of CultureTECH and the Belfast Media Festival in Derry. More than 300 school children and their teachers heard about the VIEWdigital media production and training social enterprise for the Third Sector at The Venue at Ebrington Barracks. VIEWdigital training associates Willis McBriar and Louise Friel also ran free media training workshops at the Millennium Forum and The Playhouse. They took questions from staff from community and voluntary organisation Voice of Young People in Care VOYPIC ( and further education students and lecturers about the VIEWdigital 'Shoot, Edit & Upload: Practical MultiMedia Production' workshop – using cheap digital cameras and free (or nearly free) editing software and building an audience for digital media content through social media. Co-founder Una Murphy said: “Taking part in CultureTECH, CultureTECH Junior and the Belfast Media Festival was a great opportunity to spread our message about digital media production and training for the community and voluntary sector. “People can sign up for a FREE magazine and find our more about the media training workshops on our website”

Donate money to Willis’s sleep-out VIEWdigital training associate Willis McBriar is taking part in Byte Night in Belfast in October – the annual sleep out in support of Action for Children. Each year hundreds of people from across the technology and business community spend a night exposed to the elements in a bid to raise sponsorship and awareness of Action for Children's work to help prevent youth homelessness. Action for Children helps to prevent youth homelessness through early intervention by ensuring that young people across the United Kingdom are given the support they need before it is too late. To contribute to Willis's fundraising go to:

WRDA celebrates 30th anniversary WOMEN’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary and the 18th year of its successful Community Facilitator training programme. Jennifer McCann, Sinn Fein MLA, who was among the original cohort of community facilitators, gave out certificates at the WRDA AGM. The programme is aimed at women from disadvantaged communities who take courses and become role models to other women to access opportunities. The WRDA are based at 6 Mount Charles Street, Belfast; tel: 02890 230212; email address –



Learn media skills, soak up tips and hands-on learning from expert Media & IT practitioners Date & time: October 1. 9.30am – 4.30pm Location: VIEWdigital, Cromac Media trainer Julia Paul, who is just back Regeneration Initiative from a writing trip to Afghanistan, is Ormeau Road/Donegall hosting a VIEWdigital TV interview Pass, Belfast. BT7 1DT workshop for the community and Price: voluntary sector. It's tough getting in front £139 per person, with of a TV camera but experienced discounts available for broadcast journalist and writer Julia Paul multiple bookings – includes will tell how to get the best out of this lunch and refreshments class with practical tips and exercises. Event capacity: 10 TV Interviews – Broadcast Media Workshop with Julia Paul

Shoot, Edit & Upload! with Willis McBriar Learn to shoot, edit and upload video content to web and social media sites in a day. These hands-on, full-day and half-day masterclasses will teach you how to use cheap cameras and free (or nearly free) software to deliver you organisation’s message via Youtube or Vimeo and then publicise it using Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday workshops Dates & times: Oct 5, 9.30am - 2.30pm Location: VIEWdigital, Cromac Regeneration Initiative Ormeau Road/Donegall Pass, Belfast. BT7 1DT Price: £89 – with discounts available Event capacity: five

Experienced journalist Brian Pelan (left) and online specialist Louise Friel will take you through the steps of how to publish and deliver content onto the web

Date & time: Oct 12, 9.30am - 2.30pm Location: Cromac Regeneration Initiative, Belfast. BT7 1DT Price: £89 – with discounts available

Digital content development for social media platforms with Kathleen Holmund Media consultant Kathleen Holmund will deliver a workshop on how to improve digital content on your website and the use of blogging to deliver your message

Date & time: Oct 26, 9.30am - 2.30pm Location: Cromac Regeneration Initiative, Belfast. BT7 1DT Price: £89 – with discounts available

Digital Magazine Publishing and Distribution with Brian Pelan and Louise Friel

Book now on telephone: 07528 367312 or send an Email to Visit for further information

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Comment In the wake of two recent tragic deaths of homeless men in Belfast and Dublin, Kerry Anthony, chief executive of Depaul Ireland, urges us all to redouble our efforts to support the homeless amongst us

We must not close our eyes to people in need


orking in the homeless sector with those who are most in need, you would imagine that I am used to hearing stories about the hardships and difficulties of people living in our services. Less than a month ago, a man who had been homeless was found dead in Dublin; crushed in a recycling bin that was collected from the city centre. It emerged soon after that this man was Henryk, who until recently, was engaged with Depaul Ireland. He was a 43-year-old Polish national who came to Ireland to seek work and due to the impact of the recession he became homeless. Then on September 4, a man in his 40s lay dead on a Belfast city centre street for three hours while people passed him by. I received a call later that day to inform me that this man was Jackie. He lived in Depaul Ireland’s Stella Maris service which is a support facility for those that face homelessness and have a history of alcohol misuse. These lonely and isolated deaths moved me and all of us within Depaul Ireland. Untimely deaths like these unsettle all of us, even the most seasoned professionals working in the area of homelessness. Their stories remind us to be compassionate and empathetic towards people who are vulnerable and marginalised and remind me why I started working in the homeless sector over 15 years ago. Their deaths highlighted for me the vulnerability of the people we work with and the pressing need for services like ours which meet their needs and which help them take steps towards a more positive and more independent future. Last year Depaul Ireland marked 10 years of supporting people that are homeless or at risk of homelessness. There were 1,547 people, like Jackie and Henryk, that sought support from Depaul Ireland in 2012. Over the past decade we have helped make a difference in the lives of 8,966 people. In the areas of community and outreach, vulnerable families, harm reduction and criminal

Plea: Depaul Ireland’s Kerry Anthony urges people to assist the homeless and not to look away justice. Last year our services helped to resettle 328 people into the community. When I meet the people we work with and hear their stories, I renew my commitment to working to influence professional structures, pragmatic responses and systemic change in homeless services. That is what I am employed to do and I do what I can to make a difference. But we all can play a role, you don’t need to be a professional working in the field to understand that behind every person dealing with homelessness there is a personal touching story and families who still care for them. When we are wrapped up in our own thoughts, our natural response is often to look away or feel slightly intimidated when we see people on the street. It is important that, as a society, we do not close our eyes to people in need. I would urge people not to ignore people who are homeless but to take the time to look deeper and recognise that it is a human being who may be in a time of distress or struggle. A smile costs nothing, and more often than not, the simplest of exchanges, a nod of acknowledgement, can help lighten people in a time of hardship. I would urge people if they have any concerns about an individual they see on the streets to contact one of the agencies, like ourselves, that are here to support them. Do not look away. There is hope and there is help out there.You can be part of the solution. • Contact Depaul Ireland at its Belfast office – Ravara House, 1 Fitzwilliam Avenue, Belfast, BT7 2HJ. 028 906 47755 or email: • Dublin Office –18 Nicholas Street, Chistchurch, Dublin 8, 00353 (0) 1 453 7111 or email:

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Comment Gabriel Scally – the former Director of Public Health in Belfast – looks back on some turbulent times as the Brook Advisory Clinic celebrates 21 years of providing a sexual health service to young people

Dan Gordon, comedian, actor and writer, with Mary Crawford, Director of Brook Northern Ireland, and Gabriel Scally, attending Brook Northern Ireland’s 21st birthday celebrations at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast Image: Kevin Cooper

I was amazed at opposition to a sexual health service A

midst a storm of controversy 21 years ago this month the Brook Advisory Centre opened in Belfast city centre. It was a momentous achievement in the face of enormous opposition from social conservatives across the spectrum of Northern Ireland politics. Indeed it was said that Brook was the one thing that had united the usually opposed and entrenched extremes. I was at the time Director of Public Health for Belfast and the surrounding council areas. In my very first annual report on the state of the health of the population I noted that there was a high birth rate amongst teenagers. The following year I looked at the issues in more depth and my report recommended that action needed to be taken to help young people avoid unwanted pregnancy. Using my report I was able to persuade the Eastern Health and Social Services Board that we should fund the development of a sexual health service for young people. I had come across Brook Advisory as a student in London and knew that as an organisation they placed enormous stress both on confidentiality and on providing a service that young people would feel comfortable in visiting. I invited them to establish a branch in Northern

Ireland. I had never regarded the provision of sexual health services for young people to be a matter of particular controversy and was amazed at the vitriolic, intolerant and bullying opposition that emerged as soon as it became known that the clinic was to be established. Such was the nature of the barrage of criticism that I became firmly convinced that Brook would not only help prevent unwanted pregnancies, but that, as a society, we could not afford to lose what became a highly publicised and polarised battle. Luckily the local Brook committee contained enormously committed individuals whose efforts made sure that the clinic did come about. The most prominent campaigner was Audrey Simpson of the Family Planning Association and it is no exaggeration to say that she was the driving force that made the clinic happen. It was a difficult time for me personally as I faced both highly public demands for my resignation or sacking and death threats. Two prominent general practitioners launched a judicial review application seeking to have the Eastern Board’s decision to fund Brook declared illegal. Happily my reasoning in inviting Brook and the process we followed stood up to extensive scrutiny.

But the real turning point was the vote at a full meeting of Belfast City Council to support the clinic. The outcome of the vote was a major shock to everyone, supporters as well as opponents. It was very clear that it was councillors from the working class areas of Belfast that had made the difference. They knew exactly the devastating effect that teenage pregnancy was having on many young women and they voted accordingly. An unsung supporter of Brook was Richard Needham, the Tory minister in Northern Ireland with responsibility for health and environment. He not only resisted substantial pressure from local politicians demanding that he interfere with the decision to fund Brook but also gave a fair wind to the planning application for change of use of the premises for the clinic. The battle for Brook was won and, despite years of picketing by opponents, it thrives. It has undoubtedly improved the lives of thousands of young people and for that it deserves applause and our gratitude. The real heroes are the staff of Brook, who have at times had to withstand outrageous levels of personal abuse and, in particular, the young people who, in the early days, bravely made their way through the picket lines to access the advice and help that they needed.

VIEW, issue 18, 2013


The Big Picture Clare Bailey, left, with Jill Hodgson, Dr Carole Jennings and Lorraine Brennan at the recent 21st party celebration for the Brook Advisory Clinic at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast Image: Kevin Cooper If you would like your community/ voluntary organisation to be selected for The Big Picture in the next issue of VIEW, send images, marked ‘Big Picture entry’ to

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VIEW, issue 18, 2013


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VIEW, issue 18, 2013


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Nuala McKeever (Belly Laughs board member and actress/writer) at the launch of the Belly Laughs comedy festival. It will run in Belfast – from September 25 to October 6 – at a host of venues throughout the city Image: Kevin Cooper

Bringing a taste of Palestine to Belfast THE Belfast Palestine Arts Festival 2013 will host a colourful array of music sessions, film screenings, photography exhibitions and discussions throughout Belfast city centre from October 9 to October 13. The aim of the festival is to provide a platform for Palestinian cinema and culture in the heart of Belfast – featuring international and local artists – and to bring a fresh perspective on Palestine’s economic, social and cultural life. Events at the festival are free apart from music sessions where all money raised will go towards a

humanitarian aid convoy travelling from Belfast to Shatila Refugee Camp in late October. Included in the programme is Mahdi Fleifel's Award winning documentary ‘A World Not Ours’. It’s a bleak, yet humorous look, at the daily grind for the inhabitants in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp; Ein el-Helweh. Visit the Facebook page at Belfast Palestine Arts Festival – Belfast-Palestine-Arts-Festival/285625388246406.

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View 18 new  

Community/voluntary magazine for Northern Ireland