Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about community development and relations:
Q1. What does the term 'Community Relations' mean?
A1. The term 'Community Relations' or 'Good Relations' as it has now become known has been defined by the Community Relations Council as: "Community relations and cultural diversity are complex issues requiring a variety of responses and approaches. Community relations and cultural diversity work in Northern Ireland are based on three key principles which are inextricably linked to each other. These principles are diversity, interdependence and equity."
Q2. I know that the Council has a role to play in promoting good relations in the Banbridge District. What exactly does the Council do to achieve this?
A2. The Council has a statutory duty under Section 75 of the NI Act 1998 to promote equality and good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group. It works to ensure the effective implementation of this legal duty by mainstreaming good relations into everything that it does. To achieve this, it works to ensure that all its employees receive high quality training in equality and good relations. It also promotes an integrated approach by working closely with other sections of Council and working with a wide range of community and voluntary groups. Past initiatives have included providing a number of focused community relations workshops on facilitating political discussion, exploring history and identity and learning to mediate. Its Community Relations Officer is represented on a number of partnerships, both formal and informal, which promote good relations as the core of their work. It also supports organisations wishing to promote good relations projects by offering modest grant aid.
Q3. How many community groups exist within the Banbridge District and what does the Council do to support these groups?
A3. The Banbridge District has a vibrant community sector with some 200 community and voluntary groups operating in local area. The Council manages a community support and community relations programme to support local community and voluntary groups. Through this programme it provides funding such as a seeding grant to newly eestablished groups. It also provides other community services such as a loan of a mini bus and much more.
Q4. Which ethnic minority groups are living in the Banbridge District?
A4. The Banbridge District has attracted many ethnic minority groups which include people from Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, India, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.
Q5. As a member of the ethnic minority group I am concerned about the increase in the number of racial hate crimes being committed in Northern Ireland as a whole. Is this a serious problem in the Banbridge area? Which organisations can offer help?
A5. No. The Banbridge District is a very safe place for ethnic minority groups. This is primarily due to the hard work and commitment of many local community groups and agencies who have worked hard to help minority communities to integrate into local neighbourhoods. If you are a member of an ethic minority group and are new to the area, you can get welcome pack from the Banbridge Regeneration Agencies Network (BRAN). This pack provides important information on many areas such as housing, education, health and much more. You can contact BRAN on 028 4066 0566. Similarly, the Banbridge Citizens Advice Bureau is a recognised Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) adviser. It provides support and advice to members of ethnic minority groups who are experiencing difficulties. The local office can be contacted on 028 4062 2201.
Q6. If I have been victimised because of my religion, skin colour, cultural background who can I contact for support?
A6. You should contact the PSNI's Ethnic Liaison Officer on 028 406 62222. The PSNI will inform Victim Support of the incident and they will contact you to offer support and advice. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support directly on 028 3025 1321.
Q7. How can I submit or ask a question about community relations?
A7. You can submit a question by selecting the 'Contact Us' link in the left hand navigation listing. Alternatively, you can contact the Council's Community Relations Officer directly on 028 4066 0643.