A delegation of more than 100 individual and group members attended the 10th anniversary conference of the Stronger Together network at The Junction in Dungannon last week.
Stronger Together is the regional interethnic cross-sectoral network for all those working to achieve racial equality and to eradicate racism in Northern Ireland.
The theme for the conference was ‘The Journey’ – which looked at how far the network had come and to discuss the future direction of travel of the network and society in general.
Stronger Together has been funded primarily by the Public Health Agency with project work in Mental Health and the EU Settlement Scheme supported by The Executive Office and The Home Office respectively.
Bernadette McAliskey, CEO of STEP, one of Stronger Together’s partner organisations, said: “This landmark conference allowed us to take stock of the position that the network and the individuals and organisations attending the anniversary conference find ourselves in at this pivotal point in our working and community environments.
“We have looked at the many themes that the network has discussed over the past 10 years and can see that there is a real threat to those most vulnerable in our society with regards to racial equality and the protection of rights. This event has afforded us an opportunity to galvanise our common goals and instigate the difficult conversations about what we need to do and how we do it.”
Conference speaker, Dr. Livingstone Thompson talked about the unknown / unacknowledged impact of trans-Atlantic slavery on every aspect of everyday life of people in Northern Ireland.
The journey from slavery to freedom cannot be complete while racial inequality and injustice, said Dr. Thompson.
He posed the question to the conference: How serious are we about eradicating racism?
Professor Colin Harvey, from Queen’s University Belfast, set out the complexities, challenges and opportunities of the position in which Northern Ireland finds itself, and that human rights and equality are both slipping off the international or national agenda and/or being ignored.
Elaine O’Doherty, from the Public Health Agency (PHA), who has been involved with the network for many years, spoke about the role of PHA in addressing health inequalities which underpinned their financial support to the network.
The conference ended on a note of solidarity and a commitment to eradicate racism in a generation, with a good start made in the first 10 years of Stronger Together.