Fear to Friendship

A group of asylum seekers and West Belfast young people have embarked on a very positive journey that has taken them from fear to friendship.

Given the high level of press coverage racism and interface violence has received in Northern Ireland in the past year, many organisations have decided it is time to put a stop to hatred in Northern Ireland. A group of asylum seekers and West Belfast young people have embarked on a very positive journey that has taken them from fear to friendship, capturing their journey on film as part of the Intercultural Diaries Belfast project.

The Intercultural Diaries project was developed by the Belfast Interface Project, Clonard Monastery Youth Centre, the Hammer Youth Club and Tell It In Colour, to bring together a group of Zimbabwean asylum seekers and young people from both sides of the Shankill/Fall interface.

Claire Harris of the Belfast Interface Project told us that the main aim of the project was to see perceptions challenged and a greater understanding of one another, developed through the sharing of experiences.

“We wanted to capture the story of the group’s journey through this. We were excited to see the reactions, thoughts and memorable moments that sprung up as the project unfolded. The project has also allowed us to share some of those moments with a wider audience.”

Claire told us about one moment which evoked a lot of emotion within the group, and at the same time brought it closer together.

“Stanley shared his story of being attacked in a racially motivated hate crime; it was a shocking insight into the often harsh reality of being perceived as ‘an outsider’ in Northern Ireland, something the young people could no longer consider him to be. For Stanley, it was an emotional moment of acceptance from teenagers he had once feared would treat him the same way as his attackers. ‘You are family to me,’ he told them, and they reciprocated the sentiment.”

A true sign of how successful the Intercultural Diaries project has been in meeting its objectives and more can be seen in the close connects and friendships which have formed and been maintained since filming. The group was also nominated for a PCSP Youth Award for their hard work and is currently planning Intercultural Diaries Phase 2.

The final piece filmed reflected back on the group as a whole and showed their message to Northern Ireland, wanting it to be a ‘sanctuary’, ‘place of peace’, and ‘ home to all’.

You can follow the groups’ journey at www.interculturaldiaries.com

Twitter @BelfastID

Intercultural Diaries is a project supported by the PEACE III Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the Community Relations Council/Pobal Consortium.

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