This Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our many blessings as we work to build a shared future.
Today, we wish our American friends and supporters a very Happy Thanksgiving. We send you every blessing during this holiday season.
We thought we’d take the opportunity to share some of the things we are thankful for as we reflect on the very real impacts our work is having on local communities across Northern Ireland.
Thankful for Peace
It’s been 20 years from the first ceasefire and Northern Ireland has changed for the better. Real progress has been made since the guns and bombs stopped. But, securing peace is a journey and we can’t stand still. We need work at it to keep it moving.
Before the ceasefire in 1994, Habitat NI was working in marginalised communities, bringing Protestants and Catholics together to build homes and break down barriers in Belfast. For the past twenty years, building a shared future has been at the heart of our work locally and whilst there has been so much progress, our community remains deeply divided with 92% of social housing still segregated and no increase in the number of Protestant and Catholic young people being educated together. There is so much more to do.
Thankful for New Opportunities
We are thankful for new opportunities to build peace, such as our new project in partnership with Windsor Presbyterian Church. Situated on the Lisburn Road in South Belfast in the most ethnically diverse area of Northern Ireland, the church has the affluent Malone Road to its east and marginalised Village area to its west.
With this mix of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds on its doorstep, the church leadership had a vision for their hall to become a welcoming hub for everyone in the local community. That’s why Habitat got involved. We’re using our 20 years experience in bringing people together from all backgrounds to engage in practical work and break down barriers in the process.
Almost 200 volunteers have been onsite since the beginning of October. Volunteer teams come from all walks of life – from young people at risk of offending to the corporate sector.
What is even more exciting is that there are lots of other similar opportunities to partner with housing organisations and homeless charities in the coming months.
Thankful for our partners
Together, we’re stronger. After decades of division, we’ve learned this the hard way.
Of course, partnership has been at the heart of Habitat’s work since it began, out of conflict, with partnership industries on Koinonia Farm. It was that same commitment to breaking down barriers which led Peter Farqhurson back to Belfast and it remains vital to the success of everything we do, including the growth of Habitat ReStore.
Every week, almost 50 volunteers from all backgrounds help out in ReStore with customer service, in the donation centre or with collections. We’ve built up strong partnerships with organisations like Mencap, Stepping Stones and Youth Justice Agency to provide volunteer opportunities which enhance learning and employability for vulnerable young people and adults.
Partnerships with builders merchants, contractors and support from the public ensures we have a steady stream of quality products in ReStore. This enables hundreds of local low-income families to improve their home for less and helps create a more sustainable Northern Ireland by diverting tons of reusable materials from landfill.
Thankful for inspiration
We too often get stuck in the past, so we're thankful for young people who speak about our shared future, not our divided past.
During our cross community Good Relations and Citizenship Programme we’re hearing from young people regardless of their background that our political leaders should work together to overcome the current stalemate, to end sectarian politics and create better opportunities for all.
Our Youth Build programme brings together 16-18 year olds from across Northern Ireland to work beside communities in need in Romania or Poland and we are thankful it is growing! In 2015, our participants will double to over 100. Our international volunteer programme has always been an extension of our local work. Our focus is on changing perspectives and equipping participants with the leadership skills needed to change the future for Northern Ireland.
Thankful for your support
Habitat NI’s work is only possible because of people like you who generously give their time, money and talent to support us. This Thanksgiving as we give thanks for your commitment please consider making a donation to support our work.
Whatever you can afford wouldmake a real difference. Please help us continue to bring people together to build the peace. We will not stop until the ‘peace walls’ that divide us are history, until housing in the poorest communities is no longer segregated and the shared future which we all long for is realised. Donate today.