Project to help ethnic groups feel at home

Celebration night at Richmount. INPT48-001
Celebration night at Richmount. INPT48-001

A new project has been launched to improve the lives of Bulgarian and Ukranian people living in Scotch Street.

It is being run by Richmount Rural Community Association thanks to a grant of £10,000 from OFMDFM.

At the recent launch at the Richmount Centre, members of both immigrant communities and a large number of locals enjoyed food and entertainment from both cultures.

Scotch Street has a substantial Bulgarian and Ukrainian population, many of whom work in the local mushroom industry and with local meat packers.

The aim of the project is to address some of the problems they face by offering English language lessons, keep fit sessions and the development of their own local football team.

It will also organise family support training for volunteers, cultural awareness history, cross-cultural events and translation of some of the key documentation for Richmount Playgroup as well as skills profiling to establish any academic/artisan skills.

Joe Garvey, chairman of the association outlined some of the main challenges facing this community. He said, “This is a very hard working group of people who tend to work very long hours. They are keen to point out they came here to work and not claim benefits.

“The main problem they have is language. Bulgarian and Ukrainian languages are minority languages and little public documentation has been translated into these languages. It also means that it is difficult to converse with the locals and sometimes this can leave a person socially isolated.

“This is particularly felt by young mothers who do not have extended family or the support of friends that we take for granted. Many of these Newcomers are well educated and are highly skilled but their current employment does not reflect this.

“They are communities with rich cultural backgrounds and history. They are keen to present a good image of their communities and have people recognise that they love Northern Ireland and its people and wish to integrate.”

The project is centred around the theme of helping the community to help itself.