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Shaw street redemption
"It’s less about sandwiches and buns and more about days like this - seeing the community come together.” The words of one elderly lady on Shaw Street after the second year of their ‘Big Lunch’ street party. It was a grey, rainy Sunday afternoon but this little east Belfast street was lit up with laughter and colour, buzzing with conversation…
Last year Janette Myles had a dream that the street she called home wouldn’t just be a patch of land where strangers pass each other by on their way to work. It was her vision that it would be a space where friendships would form and lives could be shared. And so she signed Shaw Street up to ‘The Big Lunch project - a national initiative designed to inspire neighbourliness in communities across the UK.
“Everyone enjoyed it so much last year,” says Janette. “People kept asking me were we going to do it again this year. So we did…”
But this time around Janette didn’t just invite Shaw Street residents, she invited those who live on the streets either side of them. Through this she met a young mum who’d recently moved into the area - the street party invite was the first piece of mail Amy got through her door. And so she came to the party - with her brother who was a balloon artist and who put his art into practice that day!
“On the day it was raining,” says Janette. “We didn't know what to do, but then we just opened up our homes. Mary’s was ‘the sweet house’ where all the desserts were, mine was ‘the savoury house’! We’d amazing food, face-painting, music and games!
“Someone commented that this must be the most multi-cultured street in east Belfast, but I’m sure it’s not - it’s just that so many people were out of their homes and mingling.”
And for Janette that’s part of the heart-beat behind organising this now yearly event: “I never wanted it to just be about bringing ‘the two communities here together, I wanted to see different nationalities and age groups brought together.”
And that’s how Helen sees it - it was her that made the comment we opened this story with - about it being less about the buns and sandwiches, and more about community. As a bunch of women on the street take it in turns to help take Helen’s husband to his hospital appointments, everyone knows that the Shaw Street Redemption is continuing…
Tell it in Colour, Belfast media hub, 23/06/2011
|Ministering to the homeless |
|With a new drop-in centre and soup kitchen for the homeless, HOPE Nottingham, formerly NG9, is providing for the practical needs of the homeless.