Fortwilliam & Macrory

Presbyterian Church

Bricks to Bridges Projects

Bricks to Bridges was the name given to a series of projects that were developed between 2011-2014 that sought to create healing spaces for people, and make vital connections between the church and the community. This work became the seedbed for a new social enterprise called Loveworks Cooperative to emerge in 2015. See www.loveworkscoop.com for more details.

The following projects exist under the umbrella of Bricks to Bridges:

1) Establishing a Restorative Ethos throughout all projects

  • Valuing relationship and cultivating healthy growth
  • Taking responsibility to be present and responsive 
  • Engaging in a way that enables the possibility of reparation and/or transformation
  • Promoting and empowering voluntary participation and non-coerciveness
  • Promoting the inclusion of all stakeholders in any situation
  • Being sensitive to the needs of victims
  • Safeguarding relationships and quality practice through accountability

2) Interface Development

2.1 Bike Clubs 2012

We opened two Bike Clubs - one in the Fortwilliam site, (577 Antrim Road), and the other at Macrory, (Duncairn Gardens) We offered courses in basic bike handling and road-safety skills for residents living in these areas. Two courses were offered to 10-14 year-olds. The programme was about promoting cycling as an accessible means of physical exercise, and encouraging more people to make road journeys on bikes. It was also about creating a space for relationship building across the interface through a shared interest in bikes. This programme was funded through Active Belfast and CTC Bike Club.

Bike Repair & Maintenance Apprenticeship

We delivered 5 OCN-accredited, 10-week Basic Bike Repair & Maintenance Apprenticeship Courses at the Macrory Centre btween 2013-2015. The courses recruited up to six young people, aged 16-18, from North Belfast, as part of a multi-agency strategy to address anti-social behaviour in the area. Partnering agencies include: York Road Community Police, Youth Justice Agency, Rathbone, PBNI, Thompson House, and Full Cycle Bike Shop.

2.2 Friday Night Football Club

Macrory United emerged as a core of eight 12+ year-olds from Tigers Bay began training in Macrory on Friday evenings from 6-7pm. This began on a single-identity basis initially with a view to mixing the teams after several months. Unfortunately, the work ended when the volunteer youth-worker moved on.

2.3 Community-Pride Events

We supported the planning and delivery of community-wide events that seek to establish a new annual rhythm of cross-community traditions for young people and their families, such as the annual Lantern Parade. This work is spear-headed by New Lodge Arts, from The Ashton Community Trust.

2.4 Inner North Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership

We supported the Children and Young People’s Sub Group through seeking to strengthen its representativeness and capacity in its endeavour to collaborate on youth service planning and delivery.

2.5 Fortwilliam Garden Project

We have been developing community gardens in the grounds of the Fortwilliam church site since March 2012. We have also helped establish a community garden in Tigers Bay, known as the Duncairn Community Gardens. We recognise the garden as a potential space for recreation, community service, relationship building, learning, and private reflection. By learning to harness nature's energy flow to grow flowers and food, we also begin to cultivate within, making way for new growth. The project offered participants OCN accredited training in Basic Horticultural Skills. Click here for more details.

3) Church & Community Forum on Youth Club Challenging Behaviour Management

We worked with LINC/CCWA and Jennymount Methodist to facilitate a local church & community forum for youth-club leaders on the topic of "misbehaviour management". Through organizing a series of three meetings, the project sought to:

  • Build relationships with neighbouring churches and community groups who also provide a youth club or drop-in service
  • Learn from the work each group is doing in the area
  • Improve misbehaviour management practice through collaborative discussion of current practice
  • Assist local churches to get connected with other community youth service providers in the area

Click here to view the notes from the first session of the series

Click here to view the notes from the second session of the series