EastSide Greenways are delighted to be part of plans announced last week for a new UK-wide initiative seeking to help local communities stand up for nature in their neighbourhoods, tackling the global climate and nature crises at a local level.
Three-quarters of people in the UK are worried about the state of nature (YouGov, 2022), yet we are in the bottom 10% of countries globally for protecting it (Biodiversity Intactness Index, Natural History Museum). In March 2023, the People’s Plan for Nature set out recommendations to reverse the UK’s shocking declines in nature, including calls for greater investment in ways to help communities take action to protect and renew nature at a neighbourhood level. The Nature Neighbourhoods project is a direct response to those calls.
As part of the Nature Neighbourhoods project, 18 community organisations will receive support from three of the UK’s largest nature charities – the RSPB, WWF and the National Trust – to create people-powered plans for nature in their local area. Each Nature Neighbourhood plan will be created with local communities, and as such will centre on the community’s priorities for tackling the nature and climate crises, bringing together communities and decision makers to find solutions, and help ensure nature is an essential part of future planning.
Rory Crawford, Project manager for the Nature Neighbourhoods partnership, said, ‘Urban nature doesn’t tend to be the focus of wildlife documentaries. But 86% of us live in urban areas, and they present the biggest opportunity for people to access and take action for nature on a day-to-day basis. Efforts to improve access and tackle the biodiversity and climate crises have not tended to focus on neighbourhoods experiencing high levels of deprivation, but the local community organisations involved in this project are at the forefront of addressing this, through community gardens, improving parks, connecting people to nature, community inclusion, creating new green spaces and supporting safe, active travel.’
Go Greenway, a campaign to promote and support the future of EastSide Greenways, known for its work on the Connswater Community Greenway, has launched.
Aiming to keep the Connswater Community Greenway a special green place for everyone to enjoy today and in the future, the campaign calls for individuals and local businesses to Go Greenway through a range of ways; from donations, signing up to become a Go Greenway Champion, monthly or annual membership, business membership, sponsorship, attending events and activities or becoming a volunteer.
This support will help with the continued work of the team at EastSide Greenways through its staff, volunteers and EastSide community as well as the delivery of an annual calendar of activity and events, which everyone is welcome to attend or participate.
Throughout the year, EastSide Greenways and their volunteers work alongside Belfast City Council, landowners of the site, to help manage and maintain the Connswater Community Greenway.
The Connswater Community Greenway is a 9km linear park with a total of 16km off road paths for walking and cycling. It is one of only three “living landmark” projects in the UK and focuses on; health and well-being, environmental, economic and social impact for people living on and using the Greenway.
Opened in April 2017, the Connswater Community Greenway has reconnected communities along the route, has brought the area’s rivers ‘back to life’ as focal points and community assets and has created vibrant, attractive, safe and accessible parkland for leisure, recreation, events and activities.
Launching the Go Greenway campaign, Jacqueline O’Hagan, EastSide Greenways Manager said:
“The Go Greenway campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness of the work EastSide Greenways delivers with the people who live on and use the Connswater Community Greenway, as well as helping us to continue our vital work throughout the year. We hope that people who care about the Greenway will want to support the work we do by supporting us in any way possible. By helping to grow a Greenway community together we can look after this special green place for everyone to enjoy and especially future generations.”
Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Áine Groogan said:
“Connswater Community Greenway is a fantastic resource for the whole community. It plays an important role in improving the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the thousands of people who regularly use it, while also being a really important space where wildlife and biodiversity are able to thrive. Through the Go Greenway initiative, individuals and businesses can show just how much they value the greenway. So I urge people to check out the various ways that you can get involved and show your support for this wonderful urban green space.”
For further information on how to get involved in Go Greenway visit www.eastsidegreenways.com/gogreenway
A Green Health Map for East Belfast is a new resource developed by Belfast Healthy Cities in partnership with EastSide Greenways and East Belfast Community Development Agency.
It brings together key messages linked to greening and health, and encourages people to use their local green spaces.
The Green Health Map supports individuals and communities to be:
• More informed on the health and wellbeing benefits of using green spaces.
• More informed on local green spaces and walking routes.
• Encouraged to walk to and use local green spaces.
Joan Devlin, Chief Executive, Belfast Healthy Cities, said: “It is fantastic to see the range of stakeholders wanting to use the Green Health Map. We hope this will be a valuable resource that supports people to understand the benefits of using green spaces for improved health and wellbeing and increases walking in the local area. This was a product of partnership working with EastSide Greenways and East Belfast Community Development Agency, and we are grateful for their support in developing the Green Health Map.”
Jaqueline O’Hagan, EastSide Greenways Manager, said: “We were delighted to be asked by Belfast Healthy Cities to support the development of this Green Health Map for East Belfast and to also get the opportunity to work alongside them and the team from EBCDA. Getting outdoors in green spaces has been shown to be beneficial for both physical and mental health and wellbeing. Offering resources that support and encourage people to use spaces like the Connswater Community Greenway for their daily journeys is a big part of the work we do at EastSide Greenways and this map compliments that work well.”
Linda Armitage, Health Development Director, East Belfast Community Development Agency, added: “The green health maps are a great resource for us to use in local communities, as we lead on health development across east Belfast. We hope to develop fun ways to use the maps in everyday life and explore how to include the five steps to wellbeing – Get active, give, connect, keep learning, and take notice. The maps are a result of good partnership-working between the three organisations and an example of co-designing in action with people in east Belfast.”
Join us this February for the annual Love Your Greenway programme, a week-long campaign, celebrating why we love the Connswater Communty Greenway.
There will be a range of events and activities taking place from Monday 13th – Sunday 19th February including:
The EastSide of the City is getting ready to celebrate the creativity and imagination of one of its literary greats – C.S. Lewis. From 18th – 20th November, EastSide Partnership will present the 10th C.S. Lewis Festival. Everyone is invited to step through the wardrobe door to explore their creativity and imagination and find out more about C.S. Lewis’ strong connections to his childhood home of east Belfast.
The 10th C.S. Lewis Festival, funded by Belfast City Council, will feature a range of exciting new events and firm festival favourites including, C.S. Lewis themed guided walking tours of Strandtown and Belfast City Cemetery, Tumnus Tales, Lewis inspired talks and children’s storytelling.
Other festival highlights include;
Outdoor Cinema Screening of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis Square, a space dedicated to the world of Narnia in east Belfast, is the perfect place to watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the film based on C.S. Lewis’ bestselling book. Popcorn and hot chocolate will be available; you just need to wrap up warm!
Christmas at C.S. Lewis Square – this annual event is even bigger this year and includes: Christmas Urban Market, featuring home-grown produce and locally made products; Narnia Imagination Snow Globes -decorated pods hosting sensory play and storytelling; Arts & Crafts; Face Painting; Character Walkabouts; Street Performers; EastSide Choir performance, culminating with the popular Christmas Tree Light Switch On.
Narnia Minecraft Adventure Workshops – these workshops, specially commissioned for C.S. Lewis Festival, will encourage children to use Minecraft technology to build their very own Narnia – inspired creations from Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’.
Narnia Feast at The Lamppost Café – this evening of Narnia themed food is back by popular demand having sold out during last year’s festival. Guests will enjoy a 5-course tasting menu, inspired by the food described in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, in Belfast’s only Narnia inspired café.
Alternative Protestants: Identity and Imagination in east Belfast – this thought provoking panel discussion, taking place at EastSide Visitor Centre, will explore the diverse ways in which Protestants from east Belfast approach cultural, religious and political identity.
Looking forward to the 10th C.S. Lewis Festival Michele Bryans EastSide Partnership said:
“EastSide Partnership has been committed to celebrating C.S. Lewis’ special connection to east Belfast for many years; this has included the creation of C.S. Lewis Square and the delivery of an annual C.S. Lewis Festival in east Belfast for the last ten years. We would like to encourage everyone, especially local families, to come along and get creative at the events taking place from 18th – 20th November. We would like to say thank you to Belfast City Council for supporting this year’s festival”.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Tina Black said:
“We’re delighted to continue our support for the C.S. Lewis Festival, in this, its tenth year. C.S. Lewis was an intellectual giant – and a writer of international renown, inspired by the beauty of our landscapes to write the Narnia series. His work has been putting Belfast on the map for decades, as well as inspiring countless numbers of people to fall in love with reading. This year’s festival brings an eclectic mix of Narnia-inspired activities to east Belfast – spanning food, film, discussion, walking tours and more. Belfast is very fortunate to be a city of festivals – they play such a valuable role, enriching our individual lives and bringing us together through shared creative experiences. I wish the festival team every success and look forward to seeing lots of people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying this year’s events.”
For full event listings and ticket information visit: www.VisitEastSide.com
Follow C.S. Lewis Festival on Facebook www.facebook.com/CSLewisFestival