Belfast Friendship Club: ‘a diverse bunch of people with a lot in common’
In 2009, BFC began welcoming newcomers to the city and into the safe and neutral setting of a café where they could freely meet others including those born or otherwise settled here. It now routinely attracts 30-60 people each week from 15+ nationalities, a wide age range and many walks of life.
Including the 5-10 newcomers each week, members arrive via friends, classmates, relatives, colleagues, housemates or having been ‘signposted’ from elsewhere.
‘Belfast Friendship Club – a huge gift to Belfast’
Duncan Morrow, University of Ulster, 2013
On arrival, all are greeted at the door and given a simple, hand written name badge. The information recorded is simply their first name, their country of origin and whether this is a first visit to the club. Newcomers are then invited to circulate freely, perhaps having been introduced to someone to ease the process. As noted in our evaluation ‘what is striking about the club is that ‘nothing happens’, except a round of announcements at the end of the evening, yet it is an intensely social occasion’ (Wilson, 2012).
With very rare exceptions, no activities are laid on and nothing else is organised during the
two hour weekly meetings which have become the ‘heartbeat’ that drives all else within the club. Those gathered can use the space however they wish and this generates a sense of connection arising from the apparent ‘unity in diversity’ that transcends the usual barriers operating to separate people from one another.
In the seven years since it began, BFC has grown beyond all expectation, welcoming 3500+ people to its weekly meetings, events and other activities. With core values of equality, respect and solidarity, BFC has developed characteristics of a social movement and, to date, has given rise to a great many spin-offs including language exchanges, creative projects and catering initiatives, as well as attempts to replicate its model and of which there are currently five in operation across the island of Ireland.
“I want to say thanks to the people who envisaged it could be possible and the ones who have actually made it a reality”
‘Be the change: a guide to creating safe and inclusive space’ is a booklet based upon the experience of BFC. It was published in 2014 and is available as a PDF download from our website:
+44 (0)7548 938508
Indian freedom of expression activist and cartoonist Aseem Trivedi has been imprisoned, threated, and harassed for his cartoons denouncing corruption and censorship in India. The leading human rights campaigner with join Front Line Defenders and Queen's University Belfast to talk about art, censorship, activism, and human rights in India and beyond.
Aseem Trivedi played a leading role in India's 2010 anti-corruption movement with his "Cartoons Against Corruption" series, for which the government suspended Aseem's website and charged him with sedition, breaching the IT act, and "insulting" national symbols. After spending three days in prison, Aseem launched the Save Your Voice campaign against the IT rules being used to target him and other activists, and went on hunger-strike demanding they be repealed. In 2015, following years of peaceful activism, India's Supreme Court struck down the IT rules Aseem was once imprisoned under. Later that year, he created a comic magazine dedicated to telling the stories of human rights defenders at risk around the world. Today, while the sedition and IT charges have been dropped, Aseem still faces up to three years in prison for "insulting" the government through his art.
Front Line Defenders is an Irish organisation providing rapid and practical support to human rights defenders at risk. Founded in Dublin in 2001, Front Line Defenders conducts advocacy, security trainings, emergency grants and campaigning on behalf of at-risk human rights defenders around the world.
The Human Rights Centre at QUB aims to support human rights in the local and global community. Founded in 1990, we aim to support academic and human rights organisations in the promotion of human rights.
‘A Window On The Occupation’ will provide an insight into the occupation of the West Bank by Israel through the personal accounts of Dr. Brendan Browne and Danielle Carragher.
Dr Brendan Browne is an Assistant Professor in Conflict Resolution at Trinity College (in Belfast), Fellow at the Centre for Post-Conflict Justice, and former Assistant Professor in Human Rights and International law at Al Quds (Bard) University Palestine. His work focuses on the experience of children and young people growing up in Palestine.
Danielle Carragher holds an MSc in International Conflict and Cooperation and works in the field of peace empowerment through the arts with a specific focus on children and young people. She has just returned from the West Bank where she facilitated music workshops in a Palestinian Peace Education Centre.
‘A Window On The Occupation’ will include a photo exhibition entitled ‘visualising conflict’ and, as well as presentations, will include time for an open discussion on the personal experiences of Danielle Carragher and Dr. Brendan Browne in Palestine.
The modern human rights agenda owes much to its Christian heritage. This event will give participants an opportunity to walk through the city praying at various points for the institutions that strive to promote and protect human rights such as the courts and the Human Rights Commission. The walk will culminate at a venue with the opportunity to reflect on how Christianity birthed the modern notion of human rights.
I, Daniel Blake (1h 40m) is not an easy watch – but it is an important one. This is a film that everyone must see.
For fifty years Ken Loach has made brave, challenging and, at times, derided films. Beginning with Cathy Come Home in 1966 he has consistently shone a light on social issues; homelessness, inequality, injustice and poverty. Now, at 80, he has made what might be his final film, I, Daniel Blake, and what a film it is.
On one level the story of an everyman battling a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, Loach’s film is an excoriating critique of the English benefits system and a culture which paints those in need as ‘shirkers’.
A carpenter by trade, with a lifetime of work behind him, widower Daniel (Dave Johns) suffers a heart attack. Judged unfit for work by his doctor, when he tries to get the benefits he is due he comes up against the full box-ticking might of the Department for Work and Pensions and so his nightmare begins.
With this simple, dignified film, Ken Loach has created a tragedy for our times - the real tragedy of course is that, fifty years after he began making films, we still need his honesty, compassion and anger.
Powerful, honest and at times unbearably moving, I, Daniel Blake is not an easy watch – but it is an important one. This is a film that everyone must see.
Love Equality will have a huge Christmas card on display for the public to sign.
You will also have the chance to record video messages about why marriage equality is important to them.
This event will be supported by drag performers, so come on down and join in!
This free event aims to highlight the growing public support for marriage equality.
Conradh na Gaeilge will host a lecture demonstrating why language rights are human rights and need to be considered as part of the wider discussion on human rights. Local and international examples show how minority language communities are best served when language issues are regarded within a rights based framework. The absence of legislative protection for the Irish language community here not only breaches international obligations but also has a signifcant practical impact on Irish language communities at a local level.
Consecutive reports from the International Convention on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights and from the European Charter for the Protection of Regional and Minority Languages’ Committee of Experts have highlighted the lack of protection for the Irish language community as something which infringes rights found in international treaties and needs to be addressed by the Assembly at the earliest opportunity.
This discussion will discuss the rights framework which currently exists in relation to the Irish language and how and why legislative protection is necessary to ensure that international obligations are implemented at a local level. This can be done through using international examples of best practice and applying them to the local context.
Time will be available for questions and discussion at the end of the lecture.
The UK Government has indicated its intention to derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights for future armed conflicts so it can protect Armed Forces personnel.
What would the impact of derogation be and is it even legal?
Join us for a range of perspectives on this important topic.
Human Rights in Northern Ireland: Past and Future: A seminar about the issues facing human rights activists in Northern Ireland in the past and in the future.
Maggie Beirne, a past Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) will present her short history of CAJ, “A Beacon of Hope.” Brian Gormally, the current Director of CAJ, will speak on the challenges facing human rights defenders in the era of Brexit and resurgent racism, the struggle to overcome the legacy of the past and the prospects for the future. A panel of distinguished human rights lawyers and activists will discuss the issues raised with the audience.
In the preface to her history of CAJ, Maggie Beirne notes that:
Mary Robinson, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, visited Belfast a few months after the negotiation of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and said of the Committee on the Administration of Justice: “CAJ has been a beacon of light in Northern Ireland’s long hard night”. People coming new to the organisation may want to know why she said this, and long-standing members may enjoy being reminded of their role in making this assessment possible.
Maggie’s monograph sets out the history of the organisation that led to Mary Robinson’s conclusion and its work since.
For the past five years, Brian Gormally has been Director of CAJ and will take this opportunity to outline the contemporary challenges facing CAJ and the human rights community in general. He will argue that significant threats to the protection of human rights in Northern Ireland and to the basis of the peace settlement have arisen in the last two years. The current UK Government is committed to repeal of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and we have also seen the referendum campaign demanding that the UK leave the European Union which was characterised by xenophobia and unashamed racism.
Brian will say that in taking its work forward over the next three years, CAJ will take as its priorities combating impunity, working for contemporary accountability, protecting the freedom of expression and assembly while suppressing racism, protecting human rights and the peace settlement, promoting equality and international solidarity.
Registration is required. RSVP by !st December to firstname.lastname@example.org
Review of Human Rights Legislation in Northern Ireland in 2016.
Professor Joesph Cannatci, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy will deliver the keynote speech at the Human Rights Commission's flagship event.
Please RSVP your attendance by 1st December to email@example.com
‘Coach Zoran and his African Tigers’ follows veteran Serbian coach Zoran Djordjevic as he seeks to forge South Sudan’s first national football team.
St Mary’s University College Belfast hosts a public lecture on the local and international experiences of women’s human rights.
This Mini-conference convened by FOCUS: THE IDENTITY TRUST will present an opportunity for Law Makers, the Judiciary, Legal Professions and Academics to examine, compare and comment on current Gender Recognition Legislation in Northern Ireland, the remainder of the UK, The Republic of Ireland and Globally.