Witnessing inner city change is powerful and this tour, provided by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, highlights some of the real social housing success stories across the city of Belfast.

Building cohesive, settled and successful communities, as Northern Ireland emerges from our recent conflict, has been a real achievement for the Housing Executive, along with a range of delivery partners.

Hampered by so-called ‘Peace Lines’, barriers of demarcation between communities, the work of community engagement in the city goes on and this tour showcases major developments in all four corners of Belfast.

ENHR2016 delegates will see how innovative housing design, delicate spatial management and political and cultural awareness combine to create areas where people want build lives and live in peace.

The Band of Brothers image (featured) is from a new piece of community artwork located in the Village area off the Donegall Road in Belfast  The artwork replaced a paramilitary mural and recognises the sacrifice of Polish air crews in World War II.

The Band of Brothers 300 Squadron of Polish airmen was set up in 1940 and has a direct link to Northern Ireland through Flight Sergeant Pawel Wojciechowski, who was posted at RAF Ballyhalbert, where he met and married his wife, before settling in Northern Ireland.

Jennifer Hawthorne, Northern Ireland Housing Executive Head of Income and Communities said:

“This amazing mural is part of a series we have supported through the Band of Brothers Project, which began with a similar art installation on the mid-Shankill in September 2015.

“We are delighted to see such an impressive production and we hope the new mural will inspire learning and good relations among all in our community.”

The mural is a Greater Village Regeneration Trust initiative, supported by the South Belfast Action for Community Transformation (ACT). It was facilitated by the Shared History Workshop historian Pete Bleakley, who organised a number of workshops as part of the project.

It’s great to see this former paramilitary mural being re-imaged as a positive step in our shared history. The Village has, perhaps, the most multi-cultural population in the city and Polish families are part of that community. This project provides an opportunity to thank them for the courage and sacrifice displayed during World War Two”, Mr Bleakley said.

Colin Fulton of South Belfast Action for Community Transformation (ACT) said: “We have been involved in groundbreaking, transformative work recently with young people in this area regarding shared history and re-imaging. We are moving forward towards a shared future”.

Angela Johnston of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust said:

Encouraging historical and multi-cultural learning is a great way forward for our ever changing community and it’s very important to equip members of our community with greater knowledge of our shared histories.

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