Belfast Interface Project

Contact Information

Areas of Expertise

The Belfast Interface Project has expertise in a range of areas, including:

Main Aims and Objectives

Vision - ‘what we want to see’:

The Belfast Interface Project’s (BIP) overall vision is of a Belfast in which today’s interface communities:

  • Are free of tension, intimidation and violence both within and between communities;
  • Have come to terms with the legacies of the past;
  • Are socially and economically vibrant, within an attractive physical environment;
  • Enjoy freedom of movement in accessing facilities and services;
  • Have respect for cultural difference and diversity.

Mission - ‘our part in bringing this about’ - BIP is a membership organisation committed to informing and creating effective regeneration strategies in Belfast’s interface areas.

Aims:

  1. To be proactive in linking and involving local communities in changing policy and in advocating for change that is of practical benefit to interface communities.
  2. To support interface communities and to advocate with agencies and others in order to address issues of safety in interface communities and safe access to work and services, through improved relationships between communities, increased labour mobility and the development of shared services.
  3. To support interface communities to develop positive relationships by encouraging and enabling co-operation, promoting articulation and understanding of key issues involved in sharing and division, and providing support through change.
  4. To ensure that membership remains reflective of interface communities as changes occur and that the organisation is managed efficiently and effectively.

Upholding the Principles of Conflict Transformation

  • 4. Conflict transformation is a long-term, gradual and complex process, requiring sustained engagement and interaction;

BIP was formed in 1995 and became a membership organisation in 2000. BIP’s small staff team work to a cross-community board elected at our AGM from amongst our membership of approx interface community groups operating in predominantly unionist and predominantly nationalist communities. BIP members are required to ‘sign up’ to our vision, mission, aims and values.

  • 7. Conflict transformation adjusts to the ever changing nature of a conflict, particularly during pre- and post-violence phases and at any stage of the escalation cycle;

BIP has worked with groups in the city at a range of stages in the conflict transformation process – from supporting groups to better cope with violence, through to managing and minimising conflict, building and sustaining relationships, and creating new opportunities for collaborative peace-building work that addresses shared issues and concerns.

  • 15. Conflict transformation invariably involves a third, impartial party, in order to help actors alter their cognitive and emotional views on the ‘Other’, thereby helping to break down divisions between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’;

BIP’s experience is that it has been called upon to play the role of ‘honest broker’ particularly in the earlier stages of conflict transformation. BIP’s role in this has often been to support actors to get to the point where third party intervention and support is no longer required.

Where and with Whom?

BIP works primarily in Belfast, although more recently we are responding to requests to support conflict transformation work outside of the city.

BIP is a membership organisation, with a membership of approx 50 community groups operating in predominantly nationalist or unionist interface communities in the city and approx 20 associate and individual members.

BIP’s work is primarily with its members and with key stakeholders including statutory agencies (Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Department of Social Development, Department of Justice, etc), NGOs (N.I. Community Relations Council, Mediation N.I., Workers Educational Association, etc.), community groups (Intercomm, Belfast Conflict Resolution Consortium, Forthspring, North Belfast Interface Network, etc.)

Main Activities in the Field of Conflict Transformation

a) Supporting conflict transformation development work

  • BIP is active in supporting the development of mediation as a tool in interface areas.
  • BIP supports the development of cross-community relationships, activities and programmes.
  • BIP provide development support to a number of cross-community shared space projects in the city.
  • BIP is about to deliver two new cross-community youth intervention projects in order to reduce the incidence of youth-led interface violence in the city and encourage a better-coordinated and cross-community approach.

b) Addressing policy that assists in conflict transformation

BIP is actively involved in the development of a realistic ‘roadmap’, alongside statutory agencies and departments, that will lead to the reduction and removal of physical interface structures over time and through real and meaningful consultation with local people.

c) Advocacy, through promoting research and increasing the knowledge-base regarding particular areas of conflict transformation that are relevant to interface communities

BIP is actively involved in developing a new ‘community youth work in an interface context’ module which has been adopted by the University of Ulster. BIP has commissioned and produced a wide range of research publications, including a recent outline of good practice in the development of shared space in interface areas. BIP has just produced a research project publication which for the first time definitively lists interface structures in the city together with details of ownership, date built, etc.

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