Pilot scheme planned to integrate army families in community

A PILOT scheme to help the families of army personnel integrate more freely with local communities has been unveiled in Lisburn.

Representatives from Co-operation Ireland attended the city council's Leisure Services Committee to tell them of plans for schemes in the area.

The charity will be making a submission to the new PEACE III initiative and they held a presentation before councillors to outline their work in the hopes of forging relations with the council.

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Co-Operation Ireland's Educational Development Officer Alan Largey said the charity's aim is to "promote better relations between people from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland" and to "bring people from disparate groups and bring them together in a process to try and understand themselves and each other and go forward together."

Barry Fennell, the Project Development Officer, added: "The military community is something quite different for ourselves. At a conference in Glasgow we were told that families of military personnel would be here another ten to twelve years. The aim for us as an organisation is to integrate with that group."

A six month pilot scheme will be launched, with Co-operation Ireland contacting local bases to work with families there, including Thiepval, Aldergrove and Ballykinler.

Barry continued: "There are many sensitivities around the project, which will be very much focused on families and which will be intergenerational, working with parents, families, teens, children. People in the past, on all sides, haven't integrated together, we want to try and build some bridges that may not exist."

Councillors agreed to note the presentation, rather than making comments with regards to the initiative itself, with the charity just one of many seeking assistance from the council.