Summer Camps

Oral Answers to Questions — Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 27th April 2015.

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Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton DUP 2:15 pm, 27th April 2015

3. Mr Newton asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an update on the Together: Building a United Community signature projects, including the number of summer camps that will be rolled out this year. (AQO 8006/11-15)

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

Work is progressing across the seven headline actions arising from the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) strategy. Following a second call for applications to the shared education campuses programme, six proposals are currently being assessed, covering more than 20 schools, with decisions due in June 2015. Progress on the United Youth programme has seen 50 organisations proceed to a further development stage, following which, 10 pilot schemes will progress to delivery later in 2015.

A total of five urban village locations have now been announced. There has been considerable stakeholder engagement in relation to the lower Newtownards Road urban village scheme, which the Member may take a particular interest in. The first social housing development under the shared neighbourhoods programme at Ravenhill Road has opened and a community cohesion plan is being developed. It is envisaged that nine out of 10 of the remaining sites will be under construction during this financial year.

Work to date has reduced the number of interface barriers from 59 to 52, and engagement is ongoing in 40 of the 52 remaining areas. The summer camps pilot programme opened for applications on 15 April 2015 with a closing date of 8 May 2015. We are on target to meet our commitment to deliver 100 summer camp pilots in 2015. A 12-week pilot project for the cross-community youth sports programme ended on 31 March. The programme seeks to use sport in a central role to break down divisions in society and to deliver a good relations programme to young people drawn from all sections of our community. An evaluation of the pilot will help to inform the further roll-out of the programme.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton DUP

I thank the First Minister for that very detailed outline. Will he tell the House how much money will be spent on addressing sectarianism, particularly around the signature projects in the T:BUC strategy?

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

My colleague the junior Minister spoke earlier of the concerns and issues arising from racial tensions and hatred. It is right that we speak out on all of those issues. It is equally right that we look at the sectarianism in our society, no matter where it is displayed or what its source may be. It is right, therefore, that we were able to garner an additional £10 million of funds for T:BUC and, indeed, a further £3 million on top of that from the change fund. All that we do within that scope is related to improving relations in every part of our society. I personally take the view that the best way to deal with sectarianism and start getting reconciliation is to concentrate on the youngest so that they might grow up not looking across a fence at somebody who is different from them but at somebody who can be a friend.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

Two years on, what progress has been made on the T:BUC commitment to roll out a buddy scheme in publicly run nursery and primary schools in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

The buddy scheme is not a signature project under T:BUC, but it is an action. However, the Department of Education is in the lead on that and has the responsibility for it, so the question could be more properly put to the Education Minister.

Photo of Danny Kinahan Danny Kinahan UUP

It is good to hear about the summer camps, but will the First Minister confirm that the 100 camps that he is talking about are all new? Will the camps be spread throughout the summer holidays so that they are not all jammed in at the beginning or the end?

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP

I could not possibly know the answer to his question yet because it is out for application, and we are waiting for the projects to be fully identified. If it is helpful to the Member, as soon as we have identified those projects, I will make sure that he gets a copy, and he can make his own judgement on how new or how widely spread they are.