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SPEAKING FRANKLY By VIEW columnist Harry Reid Thank you for contacting MaLAise 108, the helpline for elected representatives. As we’re currently experiencing a high volume of calls, we ask you to either be patient and hold until one of our operators becomes available or select one of the following options, which we believe, will cover the majority of your concerns. Press one if you’re enquiring about the location of the next meeting of the All Party Craft Group featuring illusionist Dynamo, who will be demonstrating how to make a Trojan Horse from a yogurt pot for MaLAise committed to displaying…

Image: Roger Smith speaking at the recent Northern Ireland Law Centre’s AGM in Belfast The recent AGM of the Northern Ireland Law Centre in Belfast discussed a range of issues, including how advice agencies are looking for new solutions to meet increasing demand in the face of a tough economic climate. Roger Smith, former director of Legal Action Group and JUSTICE and an expert in legal aid and access to justice, gave the Law Centre’s audience of voluntary sector advisers, members of the legal profession and civil servants an overview of innovative models of online services coupled with telephone and face…

Image: Shadow Secretary of Northern Ireland Ivan Lewis, left, with Professor Deirdre Heenan and Colin Anderson at the launch of the Commission in Belfast The Labour Party has launched a review on tackling inequality in Northern Ireland. The Heenan-Anderson Commission will address issues ranging from improving early childhood development and educational attainment to promoting more new businesses. It will also focus on the implications of efforts to encourage the growth of the private sector following decades of violence which deterred entrepreneurs from setting up in Northern Ireland. Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Ivan Lewis said: “It seems to me it is crucial…

By Stephanie Mitchell, coordinator of Belfast Friendship Club Looking round Belfast Friendship Club (BFC) on a Thursday evening, at what seems like a huge and unruly family of 40 to 60 people, I sometimes wonder how many other settings exist that attract such a diverse bunch of individuals who seem to have so much in common and, between them, create such a happy atmosphere. One element of my role is to ‘hold’ this space. From many walks of life and from all over the world, including these islands, we are caterers, writers, au pairs, cleaners, students, artists, academics, volunteers, interpreters,…

By Una Murphy Inequality in Britain is now back to the 1840s, it has been claimed at a recent event held in Belfast. Michael Pyer from Developments Trusts NI told the group’s first policy symposium that in some areas of Britain creeping privatisation had followed the grounding down of local government services. The meeting had been called to discuss development issues within the Third Sector (Voluntary, Community, Social Enterprise). Delegates heard that big private companies often failed to deliver effective services – such as G4S at the London Olympics. Neil Berry from Locality in England said there was a huge…

The battle against alcohol misuse in Northern Ireland is being boosted by a health initiative announced today by the Big Lottery Fund. The Big Lottery Fund is investing £4.2 million into an alcohol-related harm prevention and awareness programme. Run in partnership with Addiction NI and its partners, it will support people aged over 50 living in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area. The Drink Wise, Age Well project is part of the UK-wide Rethink Good Health programme aimed at those aged 50 and over, an age group that can find themselves drinking more for a variety of reasons,…

By Tom Hickey Columnist Water meter installers arrived in our estate some months ago but no one protested. They carried out their work but didn’t install a meter outside my home for technical reasons. And then residents began blocking the installers in Cork. Good old Rebel Cork. That action quickly spread nationwide and culminated recently in a huge protest in Dublin. In the years of austerity following the Republic’s banking disaster criticism of extra taxes like Universal Social Charges were loud and consistent. As taxes went up and services to the disabled, the disadvantaged and marginalised sectors were reduced, voices…

Fed up with high prices and expensive popcorn, Stuart and Rosie have decided to serve up their own free cinema nights for movie lovers From its cinema heyday in the 1950s and 60s, Belfast is now home to a handful of multiplexes and the Queen’s Film Theatre. Hoping to add something different to the usual fare of films which are largely aimed at a younger audience, Stuart Sloan and Rosie Le Garsmeur have launched Second Chance Cinema with the help of funding from the British Film Institute. “We wanted to try and create something cheap and positive for the…

Image: Joan Crooks, manager of NIPR at Linen Hall Library in Belfast By Una Murphy Ever fancied seeing your publication in a prestigious collection preserved in a valuable archive for future generations to look at? If so, the NIPR National Collection of Northern Ireland Publications based at The Linen Hall Library – Belfast’s oldest library and only remaining subscription library on the island of Ireland wants to hear from you. “People who have been though difficult situations such as homelessness often find that creative activities like writing help them. We would like to speak to groups and advise them on…

IMAGE: Jim Dennison, chief executive of Simon Community in Northern Ireland Can you tell our readers about your background and why you chose to work in this area? I left Queen’s University with a degree in politics so I’ve always been really interested in the dynamics between people who make decisions and people on the ground. You were appointed as the new CEO of the Simon Community in January of this year. What did you bring to the position? I suppose what I brought to the job was a very real understanding of the dynamics of community development and housing…

Image: John McInally Earlier this month the Northern Ireland Congress of Trade Unions. held a seminar in Belfast to highlight opposition to proposed welfare cuts. Below is an edited version of a speech given at the meeting by John McInally, Vice President of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). Welfare reform, like austerity, is no more than a slick political term intended to mask what is in reality a one-sided and unremitting class war being carried by big business and the Tories against the unemployed, disabled and the low paid. Welfare reform has been on the agenda of all…

Image: Volunteer Now’s chief executive Wendy Osborne, left, with Elaine Sheridan from MindWise By Una Murphy Earlier this year VIEW reported on the blow to Volunteer Now – which supplied volunteers for last year’s World Police and Fire Games – from a massive government funding cut Following a round of redundancies the charity has marked the formation of a new enterprise to bring more funds into the organisation. Chief Executive Wendy Osborne warned that the severe 50 percent cut in core funding from the Department of Social Development had had a huge impact on the charity. “Cut too deeply and lose…

Image: Trainer Steve Andrews A new partnership between the Macular Society and Guide Dogs NI means that more people affected by macular degeneration in Northern Ireland will be given the chance to learn vital skills that can help maintain their independence. As part of their ‘Skills for Seeing’ programme the two charities have trainers available to teach techniques which help people to make the best use of their remaining vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is estimated to affect more than half a million people in the UK alone, and is the biggest cause of sight loss in the developed world.…

A host of iconic National Trust places in Northern Ireland are set to feature in Dracula Untold, one of the biggest films to be released worldwide this autumn. The Universal Pictures production of Dracula Untold, to be released on October 3, was filmed at well-known National Trust locations in Northern Ireland including the Giant’s Causeway, Mount Stewart and Divis and the Black Mountain. Familiar backdrops include the wide open spaces of Divis which hosted battle scenes and the Italian Garden at Mount Stewart which played home to the grounds of Dracula’s castle. Meanwhile it will be hard to miss the…

Portstewart Strand, the National Trust beach on the North Coast of Antrim has been ranked within the top 12 beaches in the UK by ‘Rough Guides’. This two mile stretch of beach welcomes holiday makers in their thousands throughout the year and the Northern Ireland weather isn’t an issue as the Strand’s beauty shines through in all seasons. Toby Edwards, National Trust Manager said: “We’re delighted that the Strand has been ranked in the top 12. The team here take great pride in looking after the beach, with help from local residents who have a deep connection with the Strand…

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