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Image: Conductor Paul McCusker By Una Murphy Laganside Sinfonia conductor Paul McCusker said he organised a concert in Belfast in the run up to the New Year because he was appalled at the number of people he saw sleeping rough in the city. The talented conductor who is a post-doctoral researcher in molecular parasitology at Queen’s University Belfast combines his academic career in biology with music. He’s the force behind Laganside Sinfonia, http://www.lagansidesinfonia.co.uk – an orchestra set up in 2012 with the aim of raising money for local charities which have a local or global impact by performances of symphony…

Image: John Ruddy at his home in north Belfast John Francis Ruddy tells VIEW editor Brian Pelan that he never imagined that one day he would be sitting alone in his apartment with just a drink and TV soaps to keep him company Raindrops began to fall on a bitterly cold day in Belfast. I was standing outside a block of flats in north Belfast waiting for pensioner John Francis Ruddy to let me in. John, who lives by himself in sheltered accommodation, had kindly agreed to be interviewed for the VIEW issue on loneliness. I got a surprise when…

Image: Gerard Morgan (EBIAC), left, with Lora-Jane McDonnell (EBIAC), Sidney Ewing (EBIAC), Sinead Murray, Lady Captain, Knock Golf Club; Mary McManus (EBIAC), Carlie Martin (EBIAC) and Peter O’Hare (EBIAC) An east Belfast advice centre is celebrating an early Christmas present after it received a cheque from a golf club Every year Knock Golf Club, Ladies Section, organises a range of activities to raise money for good causes. One of their nominated charities is local independent advice centre EBIAC, located in East Belfast Network Centre, Templemore Avenue. EBIAC provides free, independent and confidential advice on people’s rights in relation to Social Security,…

Image: Mary Peters relaxing at home               Photo: Kevin Cooper Olympic gold medal winner Mary Peters talks to VIEW editor Brian Pelan about loneliness and why we need to try and care for each other more Mary Peters, Olympic gold medal winner and an ambassador for sports and numerous charity initiatives, would be a regular front-runner if there was a yearly award for being charming and gracious. In 1972, the year she won her gold medal at the Munich Olympics, I was 16 years of age. I can recall the fevered atmosphere in Belfast…

Image: Jonathan McAlpin of East Belfast Enterprise (centre) with Stephen Patton from George Best Belfast City Airport and Geri Wright from Phoenix Gas at the announcement of the finalists in the inaugural Eastside Awards By VIEWdigital co-founder Una Murphy Finalist in the Eastside Award. A great start for my review looking back at 2016 for VIEWdigital Publishing and Media Training Social Enterprise set up with co-founder Brian Pelan . I was born and raised in East Belfast and earlier this year we moved the business to City East Business Centre, where I have had great support from Chief Executive Jonathan McAlpine.…

Image: Eddie Lynch, the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland VIEW editor Brian Pelan puts a series of questions to Eddie Lynch, The Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, about his role and his plans to raise a number of pressing issues, including addressing loneliness Brian Pelan: Question: Your predecessor in the post, Claire Keatinge, said in her final report: “I am convinced that our politicians believe that they want Northern Ireland to be a great place to age. Yet I remain frustrated by the lack of decisive action which is required by Government to introduce the legislation,…

By Brian Pelan. VIEW editor Belfast City Council has been urged not to axe a service which has successfully represented thousands of city residents at benefit appeals over the last three years, at a time when the demand for representation is likely to soar with the implementation of Welfare Reform. The Belfast Citywide Tribunal Service (BCTS) is set to close its doors on December 31, when current funding comes to an end. Eight staff will lose their jobs as a result. The Service, which has been funded by Belfast City Council, with support from the then Department of Social Development…

The guest editor in VIEW’s latest issue on loneliness, Age NI Chief Executive Linda Robinson, above, tells VIEW readers why her organisation is committed to tackling the issue of loneliness affecting older people. My first role in Age NI was to set up a Day centre 29 years ago. I remember the dismay I felt after leaving a client, Anne, home to a rural location. She told me that she most likely would not have another conversation until I picked her up the next week. Sadly, with an ageing population and more people living alone, Age NI hears similar stories…

Image: Mary McManus, manager of the East Belfast Independent Advice Centre in Templemore Avenue By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor The manager of an east Belfast advice centre has hit out at the Belfast Telegraph over its recent front page story about benefit fraud. Mary McManus, manager of the East Belfast Independent Advice Centre, said: “The Belfast Telegraph has chosen to sensationalise and exaggerate benefit fraud to the detriment of its readers in its recent front page story. Ms McManus said: “On Tuesday, December 6, the Belfast Telegraph had a front page which read, ‘Staggering £800,000 weekly bill for benefit fraud…

Image: Barrister Michael Mansfield and Yvette Greenway at St Mary’s Training College in west Belfast Leading human rights barrister Michael Mansfield talks to VIEW editor Brian Pelan about why we need to confront the ‘elephant in the room’ It was a blustery, wet Saturday as I made my way recently to St Mary’s Training College on the Falls Road to an event organised by the Suicide and Awareness organisation in west Belfast. I was there to hear a talk given by the renowned human rights barrister Michael Mansfield, who along with his partner Yvette Greenway, have helped set up a group…

Dr Ruari-Santiago McBride, who co-facilitated an art project in a mental-health day unit in Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland, says concerted action is needed to prevent further deaths in custody Since 2005, 15-20 people have taken their lives while under the care of Northern Ireland’s Prison Service (NIPS). Between 2013 and 2016, a further nine people have taken their life within 10 days of release from prison, including one man who died the very same day he was released. These deaths point to systemic failings in the prison system and reveal the need for concerted action to prevent further deaths…

Image: Happy memories: SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan with his sister Gabrielle By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Stormont – The House on The Hill – has vast labyrinths within it, which seem to stretch for ever and where one could ­– metaphorically speaking – be lost for good. As Mark and I walked along the corridors to his office, I joked did he need a GPS map detector on his phone to find it? Mark laughed and replied. “When I first started here it would have been a trail of breadcrumbs.” The easy banter between the two of us made it…

By VIEW guest editor Fergus Cumiskey, Chief Executive, Contact The World Health Organisation declared in 2014 that suicide is preventable. At Contact we encourage the fast expanding worldwide Zero Suicide movement with the conviction that all suicides are preventable until the last moment of life. How then might we protect our families and friends from suicide as a preventable catastrophe? How do we live with the fact that 318 local families lost a loved one to suicide last year alone? How to make sense of the reality that suicide kills more people globally than all wars combined? How do we…

Author Tony Macaulay, who wrote the successful book Paperboy, describes his shock after discovering his dad’s final note tucked away at the back of his late mother’s Bible A few weeks ago my mother died. It was one of the saddest days of my life but it wasn’t a shock. My mother was 83 years old and for the last 10 years of her life she endured a long and debilitating journey with cancer. In the final hours of her life we held my mother’s hand, mopped her brow, played songs to her, comforted her and prayed with her. We told…

A service aimed at supporting families in which there are parents who have mild to moderate learning difficulties or are on the autistic spectrum has celebrated its first birthday. The NOW Family Service has supported 30 clients since it began in October 2015. It has worked with new and expectant parents with children under five in the Belfast area to support them by building confidence, developing their parenting skills and helping them feel more connected to their communities. When they are ready to go back to work the service also provides opportunities for parents to move onto NOW’s training and…

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