A south Lurgan community association has netted a £62,200 grant for peace projects.
The Mourneview and Grey Estate Community Association (MGECA) is to receive the cash from the International Fund for Ireland.
The project aims to expand and build on the success of two successful employment projects by engaging more than 20 adults in training programmes, increasing the participation of women in peace building and creating new cross-community links.
Vice Chairman of MGECA Mark Tipping said the project aims to make the estate a better place.
Chairman of MGECA Johnny Mercer said: “The big problem would be a lot to do with drugs and alcohol problems.”
He explained that it is in the bottom 10 percent in poverty and fuel poverty.
“This is to give people that would never have a chance the boost that maybe they need,” he said, adding that they aim to get people out of the house and doing things.
Mark said: “We are doing driving lessons, first aid courses, drug awareness courses. There’s different courses going on with young ones, trying to target them and get them away from anti-social behaviour.
“What we really want to prove is to other communities is that we can really celebrate our culture while still respecting theirs.
He explained that the estate is full of deprivation. “There are a lot of people unemployed, so with the like of the driving lessons we are giving people a chance to go an get a licence, that they could maybe get a car and go and get a job where they weren’t in a position to do that before.
“There has been a few people who have said the work we have been doing with them has been invaluable to their own personal lives.”
Johnny said: “I think it has been successful and will continue to be successful.”
He revealed that they plan to have a pensioners’ IT course. “It has whetted the appetite of a lot of the pensioners.
“The driving licences are a big thing because people can’t afford it.”
Mark said they had run children’s parties. “I think the Christmas party last year, we had nearly 200 children at it.
Young Daniel who is involved with the community association said it has helped keep young ones off the streets.
Johnny said they had also ‘done stuff’ with Lurgan Town Project - ‘to sort of say that we are not really the big bad wolves’. “We are very big into our shared history.”
Mark said: “We believe everyone needs to learn their own history. And we have to learn to tolerate each other - they talk about peace - until you learn to tolerate each other’s culture there is never going to be a so-called peace.”
Dr Adrian Johnston, Chairman of the IFI said: “With our assistance, many communities that are vulnerable to violence have become more resilient.”