As the gap between rich and poor widens and our society becomes ever more polarised, the Pears Community Spaces Fund is committed to addressing the challenges that social entrepreneurs are facing by providing spaces for people to come together. Working in partnership with communities, Pears Foundation are encouraging communities to work together to be innovative and take risks and for local leaders to promote and encourage community relations in NI.
The Community Foundation is delighted to be working in partnership with the Pears Foundation on a new fund ‘Pears Community Spaces Fund’.
Together with Pears Foundation the Community Spaces Fund will work to develop greater respect and understanding between people of different backgrounds. More than a fund this investment will encourage joint working and cohesion through more targeted approaches by staff at the Foundation, encouraging and supporting joint bidding for funding and through organised cluster events.
Northern Ireland or the North of Ireland is a place of optimism, a place of challenges – it has changed hugely and beyond recognition in the past five years. Our sense of belonging and identity are strong and we are one of the most youthful city regions in Europe, life expectancy is up, tourism is thriving and more and more people, from across the world, are seeking to make Northern Ireland their home.
But significant challenges remain, slowing our progress. Our community remains divided on political, religious and gender issues and well as between rich and poor, rural and urban and East and West. Whatever happens with Brexit, it will have a significant effect on daily life, the economy and relationships here and as the only land border between UK and EU, we will be affected more significantly than any other region in the UK. The growing number of migrant and asylum seekers and refugees has added a new dimension to our historic problems.
Average pay in NI remains low and over half of our households spend more than 10% of their income on keeping warm. We have high rates of social housing and countless families bear the physical and mental scars of conflict and past violence.
More recently, with the political impasse there is a lack of leadership and direction. This sense of deja vu is having a detrimental effect on many sectors, not least the voluntary and community sector, which plays a central role in the life and day to day operations of society.
At the Community Foundation we are passionate about our region and determined to play our part in its continuing renaissance. As the gap between rich and poor widens and our society becomes ever more polarised, the Foundation is committed to addressing the challenges, supporting social entrepreneurs and the opportunities they face and providing spaces for people to come together. Working in partnership with communities, we encourage them to be proud of who they are and to work together with donors to be innovative and take risks in trying new solutions to problems.
However, election results, legacy issues and Brexit negotiations are indicative of an increasingly polarised society. The current political impasse in NI has highlighted the need for alternative and innovative ways for community groups and local leaders to promote and encourage community relations in NI. We believe the Pears Community Spaces Fund can begin to achieve this.
We recognise that budget cuts continue to have an effect on funding available to voluntary and community groups. Pears Community Spaces Fund and the training and support available through cluster events will encourage groups to share and learn from each other whilst fostering greater relations between people in NI.
We are delighted therefore to be able to work with the Pears Foundation on the Community Spaces Fund.