‘Opening Institutions…Hearts and Minds’
Members of the Omagh community recently had the opportunity to explore spaces they may never have ventured to before. Over the last six Monday evenings, participants committed to a ‘mystery tour’ where they visited different Institutions on an innovative programme ‘Getting to know your Institutions’. This OCN Level 2 accredited course was delivered by Ann Ward, Rural Enabler for Tyrone and Neville Armstrong, Rural Enabler for Fermanagh in partnership with Omagh District Council. The project has received financial support from Omagh District Council’s Good Relations Programme assisted by OFMDFM.
This course was developed by Rural Community Network through its Rural Enabler Programme which is funded by SEUPB’s PEACE III programme and is aimed at supporting rural communities in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties to take steps in addressing conflict impacts, sectarianism, racism and social inequality.
Participants had the opportunity to engage in dialogue around the history and contribution each Institution has made to community development and peace building. Each week included different guest speakers from each of the following Institutions - Ancient Order of Hibernians; St. Enda’s GAA club; Mountjoy Loyal Orange Lodge; Trinity Presbyterian Church; St. Columba’s Church of Ireland; Omagh Methodist Church; Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church; and the Royal British Legion.
One participant told us ‘We all had our own preconceived ideas of what Institutions are about, which we were brought up to believe......I really appreciated the openness with which everyone approached each night.’
Ann Ward, Rural Enabler for Co Tyrone, said ‘This was a great opportunity for people to explore new spaces, dispel myths and to develop a deeper understanding of cultural diversity.’ Ann continued, ‘The 17 participants were from a range of diverse backgrounds and it is hoped that this network will continue to develop through future initiatives.’
Pauline Clarke, Good Relations Assistant with Omagh District Council said ‘The Council hopes to support the development of relationships to promote understanding beyond the project. A visit to the AOH and the Apprentice Boys in Derry/L’Derry is currently being planned.’
For further information on the Rural Enabler Programme and the Getting to Know the Institutions course, visit www.ruralcommunitynetwork.org