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By Claire Savage An innovative community-based project in Cloughmills, Co Antrim is helping people rediscover their relationship with food and tackling the issue of food poverty as they go along. Incredible Edible Cloughmills, which has received funding from the Big Lottery Northern Ireland, encourages residents to get actively involved with their food, providing an allotment garden for growing vegetables, as well as teaching people how to prepare what’s grown. Visitors to the site can also take produce home, as well as participate in various cookery classes and activities. The idea is simple – by cultivating a better relationship with food…

By Brian Pelan, editor, VIEW A powerful exhibition of images highlighting people displaced by conflict in South Sudan was on display recently at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast. The event, organised by Oxfam Ireland, showed how the charity’s work is helping people in the area to rebuild their lives. Photographer Kieran Doherty, who took the images for the  ‘Make Them Visible’ exhibition, spoke at the event, along with Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken. More than 1.6 million people have been displaced as a result of the conflict in South Sudan.

Has nutritionist Jane McClenaghan bitten off more than she can chew as she attempted to make VIEW editor Brian Pelan a more healthier man? By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor The esteemed playwright Samuel Becket put it eloquently, when he wrote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” I, like many others, have aspirations to be more healthy. And given that ‘aspire’ seems to be the word of the moment, I sometimes believe that I am doomed to try to aspire to a healthier lifestyle and doomed to fail again. When I outlined my request to nutritionist…

We put this question to Clare Bailey, deputy leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland. Below is her reply The Soil Association defines Organic Food as being produced using environmentally and animal friendly farming methods. So based on that definition it would be hard to imagine why this question needs to be asked, but asked it often is. Because prices for organic food are more expensive both on shop shelves and at farm production leads to YES being the answer to the question, Is Organic Food Just for the Middle-Class? It is a luxury many modest income never mind…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan About 300 artists, musicians, writers and actors gathered at Stormont today to protest about cuts to the arts budget. Author Glenn Patterson, who addressed the protesters said: “This isn’t a whinge, this is cold fury.” Will Chamberlain from the Belfast Circus School said arts groups would “keep on asking questions” until the Arts Minister Carál Ní Chuilín realised the “value of the arts and the folly of the cuts” Below are a selection of images from the protest.

By Brian Pelan One of the many pleasures of producing a magazine about the vibrant food scene in Belfast was digging into the world of community gardens, none more so than the day I visited the Grow charity project in north Belfast. Led by a number of people, including Siobhan Craig, a resident in the area, the garden, which occupies a corner at the Waterworks, is now thriving, six years after it was first set up. One of the first people I met was volunteer Kimberley Morrison, who is originally from Canada. “One of the most amazing things about this…

By Brian Pelan Former chef, and now community gardener extraordinary, Arlene Megaw, is on a mission to bring her skills into the heart of inner city communities in Belfast. “I’ve been working for the last two years as a volunteer on a range of community gardens in conjunction with Belfast City Council, including places such as Avoneil, Ballynafeigh, Knocknagoney and Short Strand.” Arlene is a Life Skills Worker at Hosford House, the East Belfast Mission hostel for the homeless. “We’ve built a community garden at the side of the Skainos Centre on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast with funding…

Two of Northern Ireland’s leading charities are launching a joint campaign against the reintroduction of prescription charges for those living with long term conditions. British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) and the MS Society’s Keep Us Well1 campaign is calling on Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and the Stormont Executive to end the uncertainty and commit to no return to prescription charges for the one in three people here living with one or more long term conditions. The Keep Us Well campaign is supported by the Prescription Charges Coalition and the Long Term Conditions Alliance NI, together representing more than…

The hidden problem of ‘sofa surfing’ was highlighted today as members of Belfast City Council’s Youth Forum joined the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, and Jim Dennison, Chief Executive of Simon Community NI, to push a giant sofa from Cornmarket to Belfast City Hall. Almost 40 percent of those registered as homeless in the city are under the age of 24, with many relying on friends or hostels for temporary accommodation. Following the sofa push, young people joined Simon Community NI in the grounds of Belfast City Hall to offer advice and signposting to other teens to help…

By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor A group of protesters held a demonstration in Belfast city centre today to highlight the sharp rise in the number of welfare benefit sanctions taking place. Development worker Sean Brady from the Participation and the Practice of Rights organisation said the demonstration was held by the Right to Work: Right to Welfare group who have been monitoring outside unemployment offices  for the last three years and have witnessed a steady increase in sanctions and benefit stoppages. “This is driving people to food banks, poverty and destitution,”said Mr Brady. “They are here today to tell the decision makers…

By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor As Northern Ireland gets set to host the Year of Food next year, a call was made for an urgent need to tackle hunger on our streets. The call for action was made at the launch of the latest issue of VIEW (http://bit.ly/1XsYUtq) at the National Grande Cafe in High Street earlier this week. Among those who attended the event were Ginger Restaurant owner/chef Simon McCance; Jim Kitchen, Executive Director of Sustainable NI; Kerry Melville, Belfast Food Network co-ordinator; Mary McManus, Manager, East Belfast Independent Advice Centre; community gardener Arlene Megaw and Dr Sue Christie. Mr…

Our latest issue of VIEW is now online. It’s a themed look at food issues, especially the amazing growth in community gardens in Northern Ireland. A big thanks to all who contributed to this issue, especially Belfast Food Network co-ordinator Kerry Melville and the support we received from the Food Standards Agency NI. If you would prefer to download a PDF, go to http://bit.ly/1MeyROv http://issuu.com/brianpelanone/docs/view_32?e=3341601/30946000

By Brian Pelan A fantastic evening of dance, colour and sound effects was on display last night at the Nine Nights Diwali Indian light show in Belfast. A huge crowd were treated at the City Hall to a feast of sound and energy. Full credit to all those who organised it and took part in it. Another reason why we must do everything we can to support the arts and protect it from funding cutbacks

VIEWdigital co-founder Brian Pelan entered the Dragon’s Den today at the Dunadry Hotel at a conference organised  by Social Enterprise NI. Brian was one of five individuals, trying to secure a £1,500 award before the panel of judges – Colin Jess (Ulster Bank); Karen Lynch (Belu Water) and Phelim Sharvin (UCIT). The winner was Cavanstone, a social enterprise based in Dromore. The conference, which was well attended, was hosted by UTV’s Paul Clark.

By Brian Pelan, VIEW editor Amidst the grandeur of the Harbour Office in Belfast, Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, gave a social justice lecture last night (Monday, October 19) about combating poverty. The event was organised by the Law Centre (NI). Ms Unwin delivered a polished performance in which she touched upon many of the key factors surrounding poverty in the UK and the need to change it. Shortly after her talk ended, I posed some questions to her around the issue of poverty and why is it still with us in the 21st century?. “I think…

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