Date: 07/11/2014

Participants from Ashton Community Trust’s ‘Exploring the Past Together for a Better Future’ programme have completed a successful study-visit to Berlin, looking at the themes of peacebuilding and conflict transformation.

The project, which is funded by SEUPB under the EU’s PEACE III Programme, has brought people who took part in both the “Who Am I?” and “Making Sense of the Past” initiatives together for this unique opportunity to visit the once scarred and divided Berlin.

During the visit the delegation connected with the Berghof Foundation and heard from renowned academic Beatrix Austin whose expertise centres on conflict transformation. This relationship with the Berghof Foundation is set to be further strengthened when Ms Austin addresses an end of project conference Ashton is hosting in the Europa Hotel on November 26.

Speaking about the recent visit to Berlin Bridge of Hope’s Legacy Coordinator Niall Ó Donnghaile said:

“This was a jam packed schedule that focused on assessing the cost and legacy of division. The exploratory visit to Berlin offered us all the unique opportunity to reflect on the history of brutal conflict and division, but also to take hope from and hear practical examples of how to move beyond such conflict.

“Our delegation was made up of participants from both communities who themselves have suffered as a result of the conflict here at home. All of them have played a key role in helping to build our peace.

“While there we had the opportunity to visit many historic sites of interest as well as many scenes of conflict and memorials to those who lost their lives.

“In particular, the opportunity to meet with renowned academic Beatrix Austin from the Berghof Foundation allowed our group to come together in a respectful fashion and carry out practical exercises that looked at key themes of conflict, misunderstanding, mistrust but most importantly shared values and views.

“Already participants are keen to regroup and reflect on how they move forward after taking part in the visit and this is something that Bridge of Hope will be helping to facilitate in the coming period.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS/PHOTO DESKS:

Attached are a number of photographs from the visit to Berlin which ran from Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th October.

Ashton Community Trust’s PEACE III ‘Exploring the Past Together for a Better Futur’e project is aimed towards engaging with marginalised and disaffected communities which feel isolated and excluded from statutory engagement and are struggling with the legacy of the past.
The project is centred on 2 key strands ‘Who Am I?’ and ‘Making Sense of the Past in the Present’ both of which are bespoke initiatives Bridge of Hope has developed in-house.

The two strands promote discussion and understanding of conflict/legacy issues and encourage better communication across community, religious and political divides thereby breaking down barriers and promoting reconciliation. Through the delivery of the project individuals have the opportunity to re-connect with their own communities and society at large.

The Special EU Programmes Body is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Finance in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU structural funds Programmes PEACE III and INTERREG IVA designed to enhance cross-border co-operation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society. The programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and in the case of INTERREG IVA, Western Scotland.

The PEACE III Programme, funded under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is worth €333 million and is aimed primarily at reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society and promoting reconciliation. It focuses on helping Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland to reconcile communities and contribute towards a shared society.

For more information on the SEUPB please visit www.seupb.eu

For additional information on this press release please contact Bridge of Hope’s Legacy  Co-ordinator Niall Ó Donnghaile at niall.odonnghaile@ashtoncentre.com or Tel: 028 90 313454