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All over the world Christmas celebrations reflect local culture and traditions. The festivities can be very different from country to country, focusing on different aspects of the nativity story. But whether you’re celebrating Sheng Dan Jieh in China or awaiting the arrival of Père Noel in France, you’re sharing in the wonder and magic of the Christmas season. The National Trust, Northern Ireland’s largest conservation charity asked their followers on social media what makes their Christmas magical? The responses were plentiful and unanimous: memories that money can’t buy – enjoying time with family, good walks, crisp air, laughter and sentimental…

Image: Aidan Killian, left, with Pauric, Jason, Anna, Daire, Mustafa and Una on stage at the Sunflower bar in Belfast By Una Murphy, VIEWdigital co-founder It’s the most fun I’ve had standing-up. Or maybe I’ve just lead a quiet life. Before My Stand-Up for Human Rights set I cowered in the ladies toilet in the Sunflower Bar in Belfast trying to learn my lines. Coaxed out of the loo by fellow comedy newbie Anna – who used to work for human rights organisation PPR and is now studying human rights law – I joined the comedians at the back of…

 BY VIEW EDITOR BRIAN PELAN I have just finished reading a report called ‘Feeding Britain – A strategy for zero hunger in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland’.  The report was produced by an all-party parliamentary inquiry into hunger in the United Kingdom. I am tempted to try and cook and eat it or use it to light a fire because one thing is guaranteed, the report, if its key points were implemented, would guarantee the continuation of hunger. As I read through it I was reminded of  Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay, A Modest Proposal, when he urged the poor…

Journalist Mary O’Hara tells VIEW why she decided to write the book, Austerity Bites, which concentrates on describing the brutal effects of economic cuts on working class families throughout the United Kingdom In the forward to Austerity Bites, comedian and political activist Mark Thomas writes: “This book gives voice to those at the bottom of the heap , those who struggle just to exist. This book is ammunition. Use it.” The reader is taken on a grim journey by author Mary O’Hara in which we get to hear the voices of those suffering the brunt of austerity. Ms O’Hara said:…

Professor Paddy Grey, from the University of Ulster, examines a housing initiative which Depaul Ireland has recently piloted in Belfast Housing First is a relatively new concept and has been developed to tackle homelessness and in particular those who are chronically homeless. Accordingly to Shelter UK the model was developed in the United States and has demonstrated high degrees of success in both housing and supporting those who are chronically street homeless with multiple and complex needs. Shelter argues that it is founded on the principle of housing being a basic human right and as a result it provides…

Featured image: One of the paintings by Brian Ballard The Ormeau Bath Gallery shut its doors to the public in 2011. VIEW talks to artist Brian Ballard as the Belfast landmark building temporarily reopened to host a collection of his work which spans over 50 years Born in Belfast, Brian Ballard trained firstly at the College of Art, Belfast and then at the College of Art, Liverpool. He still lives in Belfast but spends long periods of time living and working in his house on the remote and rugged island of Inishfree, off the coast of Donegal. “I have always…

The Big Picture: Hundreds of women, men and children took part in a recent Reclaim the Night march in Belfast. Speakers at the rally called for an end to sexual and racist attacks Image: Brian Pelan If you would like your community/voluntary sector organisation or campaign to be selected for The Big Picture, send your image, marked Big Picture entry, to editorial@viewdigital.org

BT and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) are celebrating a £1 million grant-making partnership spanning 25 years by announcing five special Telecommunity Fund grants worth £5,000 each at an event at the BT Tower Riverside in Belfast. Established in 1989 with joint funding from BT Northern Ireland, BT Union Committee (CWU) and CFNI, the Telecommunity Fund provides financial support for small, locally-based projects for teenagers, older people and people with a disability from all sections of the community.  Pictured are (front) volunteer Chris Meneilly, an ex-participant in the LILAC (linked Independent Living and Advice Centre) Serivce and Helen Ashton, Leader, Lisburn…

Test Drive the Arts NI encourages first time attenders to experience events that they haven’t been to before. Now in its fifth year, ‘Test Drive the Arts NI’ has allocated 21,763 tickets to new audiences throughout Northern Ireland and we want you to take part too! It’s simple! If you haven’t been to one of our participating venues before, you can apply and get tickets for free. At the minute, we have a lot of family cinema events on Test Drive, but there is something for everyone so why not try a play, a music concert or a crafts…

There has been a staggering 163% rise in food bank usage over the last year, according to figures released by the charity The Trussell Trust today. More than 900,000 people visited food banks in 2013/14, with benefit delays or benefit changes reported as the primary reason for referral in 48% of cases. In 2013/14, 582,933 adults and 330,205 children (total, 913,138) received three days’ emergency food and support from Trussell Trust foodbanks, compared with 346,992 in 2012/13. In a survey of 130 food banks conducted in March, 83% of food banks reported benefits sanctions have caused more people to be referred…

Image: Residents deeply concerned over ‘lack of consultation’ on plans to build 3g pitch at Falls Park in west Belfast The LoveFallsPark group has called Monday night’s decision (November 3) by Belfast City Council to proceed with plans for a 3g pitch in the Falls Park as “ominous”. “We have supplied the council and councillors with incontrovertible evidence that that there has been no public consultation on the proposal to build a 3G pitch at the location proposed in the Falls Park. This lack of consultation on was publicly acknowledged by the Director of Parks and Leisure Andrew Hassard at a public meeting…

By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor As I sat on the 30th floor of the breakfast lounge at the Sheraton Hotel in Brussels, dipping my croissant into my second expresso with my copy of the International New York Times laid out in front of me, I thought, apart from the bleak weather that day, I could get used to this lifestyle. I was in Brussels earlier this month as part of a European-wide delegation of journalists who had been invited to the beating heart of the European Union as part of Open Press Day.       Unlike some seasoned…

IMAGE: Audience NI chief executive Margaret Henry: “We are delighted to announce a programme of informative topics and inspirational speakers Audiences NI Chief Executive Margaret Henry has invited members to ‘Driving Digital’ in partnership with VIEWdigital. Due to the success of last year’s Digital Day, ‘Driving Digital’ will be held on November 20 at the Duncairn Arts Centre in Belfast and it will explore how digital technology is shaping the future for arts organisations. Audiences NI are delighted to announce a programme of informative topics and inspirational speakers who are paving the way for digital innovation in the arts. Speakers…

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