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Community celebrates in style with Curry & Culture

26 Jul 2022

Press Release - 6th July 2022


This week has been a celebration for the Nettlefield area of East Belfast with two culturally themed events to mark the completion of three programmes delivered for men, children and young people from the local area. Over the last 12 weeks, Radius Housing has supported more than 50 local men and 100 children and young people, as they progressed through the 'Covid, Community & Multi-sport Programme’ and the ‘Books Before Boots Programme’. On Monday evening they held a Culture and Curry evening for men and their families and on Wednesday evening a Youth Cultural Celebration evening for young people, both in the Nettlefield Multi-sports Complex.


The Covid, Community & Multi-sport Programme was funded by Radius Housing and saw more than 100 participants take part in a range of activities, which aimed to support men, children and young people from this area of east Belfast to become more physically active, as well as supporting their emotional wellbeing. Sessions also covered good relations themed activities to promote cultural awareness, respect of difference and understanding.


The programme came about as local people recognised the impact covid had on the community, and they wanted to address this by bringing people together. The support for the project forms part of the good relations work being delivered by Radius in partnership with the South & East Belfast Advisory Group of stakeholders and residents, through the delivery of their Good Relations Plan relative to the T:buc Shared Housing development on Ravenhill Road. 


Attendance quickly grew over the weeks, demonstrating a need for these types of bespoke and innovative programmes for the local community. The celebration events allowed everyone to come together to enjoy an evening of physical activity through sport and cultural dance and enjoy some cultural entertainment. For the men who participated and their families this included tasting some cultural cuisine in the form of curries from across the globe. For the children they learnt how to make craft from around the world and the young people tried Bollywood dancing and African drumming, while also learning about racism and hate crime.


The Covid, Community & Multi-sport Programme was supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. £863,892 has been invested in the Ravenhill shared housing development and associated delivery of a five-year Good Relations Plan.


Speaking at the celebratory events, Sharon Traynor from Radius Housing said “When we spoke to local people about the issues affecting them, we saw that one of the main issues was the impact of Covid. Lockdown meant that many had missed out on aspects of education and socialising, levels of loneliness had increased, people felt more isolated and activity levels had decreased. It was important to find ways to address these issues as society was opening up again and this programme responded to community needs that were being raised through Nettlefield Primary School for children and their families who were being impacted. 


“The programmes helped bring people together, sometimes just to meet other people and chat, but mostly to get active, improve emotional wellbeing and to learn about other cultures and from each other. For children it had an educational angle, helping them after long periods of remote learning, but it also provided a physical outlet to burn some energy in a constructive way. The benefits to the mental and physical wellbeing of all who participated has been clear. And it is so important that we come together this week to celebrate the end of the programme, with fun evenings and some hot curry for those who are brave enough to try it!”


Simon McLean, Principal of Nettlefield Primary School, added “We firmly believe that education is the key to a better life, but we also know it takes a village to raise a child. Through our community links with Nettlefield Multi Sports pitch and their programmes funded by the fantastic Radius Housing, we know that we are putting our children on the path for a better tomorrow.


“The Boots before Books programme is a commitment between Nettlefield Multi Sports Pitch and Nettlefield Primary School that allows parents and children connected to school to see that learning is important right across our community. Children have had their spellings, phonics, reading and other literacy skills revised with an adult on a regular basis before participating in fun and engaging programmes on the pitch.


“By showing our families that everyone cares about learning we can continue to keep education at the forefront of people hearts and minds. At Nettlefield we believe that our school is a place to grow, dream big and shine brightly but without a solid educational core our children would not achieve to the potential they have within them.”


Radius currently has 12 shared housing developments across Northern Ireland.


The Ravenhill Road Good Relations Plan includes ‘Bridging’ events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Health and Wellbeing, Education and Training.


For children the Books before Boots afterschool sessions supported primary school aged children to improve their reading and literacy, which had been impacted by the periods of remote learning during lockdown. They also received a One World box of cultural resources to use at home with parents to promote cultural learning and extend it into their home environment.


The Youth Diversionary Multi-sports sessions supported local youth through diversionary multi-sports activities, promoting positive emotional wellbeing, increasing physical activity levels and providing support as they re-engage out of lockdown. Each of these programmes helped to address local issues and provided an important outlet for children and young people.


The Men’s Health & Wellbeing Programme provided an opportunity for men to meet other men, join in with physical activity workshops and have a chat over coffee about a wide range of issues that effect men. It provided these with an opportunity to create new friendships and contributed to a reduction in isolation, loneliness and sedentary lifestyles that many experienced during lockdown.