A Century of Women uncovers Northern Ireland’s hidden history

By | General, News, Newsroom

A major new history website has revealed Northern Ireland’s forgotten women.

A Century of Women – an online resource charting the hidden stories of some of the many remarkable women who helped shape society in the 20th century was launched in Belfast today (October 29).

The site profiles more than 60 women who contributed to society from 1900 to 2000 in the worlds of politics, trade unionism, sport and the arts.

The information, which includes individual biographies, historical narrative and video interviews, was compiled by three leading feminist academics and activists, Margaret Ward, Myrtle Hill and Lynda Walker.

The launch was hosted by award-winning writer and broadcaster Susan McKay and featured a panel discussion and Q&A with the three authors.

Project Manager Lynn Carvill said the aim of this project was to provide a living educational resource and rich archive material for students, individuals and groups interested in the social, economic, political and cultural contribution of women.

She said: “Women were invisible from the history books because history was written largely by men and we sought to change this. The strong, independent women featured in A Century of Women have made a major impact on the lives of all of us. We want to tell the story of their lives and their determination to have their voices heard in a closed, patriarchal society.

“This was a major undertaking that took 18 months of painstaking research to complete. The work completed by Margaret, Myrtle and Lynda is truly impressive.”

The £10,000 project was funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and was organised by the charity Women’sTEC in collaboration with the feminist campaign group Reclaim the Agenda.

Tony McCusker, member of the NI Committee of Heritage Lottery Fund added “We were thrilled to fund this important heritage project. Just as they do today, women played a vital role in shaping 20th century society but their stories are overshadowed by the conventional narratives. This project has drawn out the richness and breadth of women’s contributions across key areas of society. Through focusing on a small but diverse range of women, the project has sought to highlight the wider role that all women played in our heritage. It is thanks to the players of the National Lottery that we can support projects that we hope will inspire people today and into the future”

The website contains an e-book documenting the history of women and the evolution of the Women’s movement in the North. Content includes the history of the suffrage movement, the role of women in world wars, the women’s rights movement and their contribution to peace-building.

To access A Century of Women go to: www.acenturyofwomen.com

World’s largest youth film festival comes to Northern Ireland

By | Creative Industries, Film, General, News, Newsroom

Thousands of young people in Northern Ireland are being given a chance for increased exposure to the arts.

The Into Film Festival (7-23 November) features 3,000 free screenings and special events for 5-19 year olds in 550 venues across the UK, including 98 events in 34 venues in Northern Ireland.

Into Film supporter and Game of Thrones actor Gwendoline Christie said it was vital that young people have continued access to the arts:

“Into Film is a really brilliant initiative because anything that facilitates the arts in our current climate, particularly with regards to younger people, is really vital as we are seeing increasing cuts and less funding in schools,” she said.

This year, the festival includes three premiere screenings of The Grinch, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch on November 7; the Christmas caper Nativity Rocks on November 13 and the Cannes Palme D’Or Winner Shoplifters on November 20.

There are also a host of special screenings including Spielberg’s globally successful science fiction movie Ready Player One, which will be shown at Queen’s Sonic Arts Centre, one of the UK’s leading centres for the development of VR and new immersion technology.

Screenings will be held across Northern Ireland including Belfast, Antrim, Derry/Londonderry, Bangor, Lisburn, Banbridge, Coleraine, Carrickfergus, Glengormley, Larne, Maghera, Dungannon and Portstewart.

Other highlights from Northern Ireland include:

  • Cartoon Saloon’s award-winning The Breadwinner
  • The Greatest Showman with jugglers and stilt walkers performing
  • A screening of Wonder with a talk about bullying and mental health.

The annual festival is hosted by film education charity Into Film with funding from NI Screen, Cinemagic, Nerve Centre and support from the BFI through National Lottery funding and Cinema First.

For more information about the festival go to:  https://www.intofilm.org/festival

Halifax Foundation puts more than £1million into improving thousands of lives

By | Corporate, General, News, Newsroom

The Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland gave £1.087million in grants to 326 charities in its latest funding period, directly helping improve the lives of 391,000 people.

The figures were revealed as the Foundation held its annual event at Stormont to celebrate the work of hundreds of charities that respond to the needs of disadvantaged and disabled people.

The many varied projects covered by more than 600 separate grants include food banks, autism support, services for children and young people, help for the elderly and for people with learning disabilities.

Brenda McMullan, Executive Director of the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland said the aim was to get much needed cash to charities working directly to help the most impoverished of communities.

She added: “The Voluntary and Community sector continues to experience great challenges in the face of budget cuts and ongoing economic austerity so we are proud to fund these organisations that are providing a lifeline to communities that are in dire need.”

The Foundation also announced that a pilot project to provide expert mentoring support to charities will become a permanent part of its activities, with 20 organisations being helped this year.

The Charity Mentoring Programme links skilled bank staff with senior charity personnel to provide advice in areas such as leadership, governance, HR and financial management.

Jim McCooe, a Foundation Trustee and Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Northern Ireland, said the feedback from the pilot was so overwhelmingly positive, it was decided to extend the programme.

He added: “Mentors spoke of their pride in supporting charities trying to make lives better for people while mentees said that it helped them gain the skills required to meet the challenges of working in this most difficult of sectors. Using the skills of our employees is one of the ways we can help their essential work.”

More than 60 charity representatives receiving grant aid were present at the event in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings.

Arthur Scott, from the Department for Communities, who attended the event, spoke about the importance of the Foundation’s grant programmes for community groups in Northern Ireland and how they complement government funded programmes and projects.

“The vast range of work being celebrated here tonight which makes a huge difference to the quality for life for those in society who are vulnerable and most in need occurs as a direct result of the steadfast support which the Halifax foundation has provided over many years,” he said.
He also outlined how government is working with and supporting the voluntary and community sector to navigate change in a very challenging environment.

Applications to the Community Grant Programme can be made online at www.halifaxfoundationni.org or at the online portal https://halifaxni.eformz.info

200 jobs created as Innovation Factory celebrates second birthday

By | Corporate, General, News, Newsroom

Innovation Factory in West Belfast is celebrating the creation of more than 200 jobs on its second anniversary.

The business hub on the Springfield Road opened in October 2016 with the aim of encouraging entrepreneurship, innovation, and helping new high-tech businesses to grow.

The 70 businesses located at Innovation Factory are some of the most ground-breaking, innovative companies in Northern Ireland dealing with areas such as 5G technology, software development, film production and digital applications.

Majella Barkley, Innovation Director, said: “The key to the success of Innovation Factory has been flexibility and support; modern businesses need to be able to change and adapt their environment rapidly. We work closely with them to ensure they have all the tools they need to thrive.

“We have exceeded our target in the first two years and have helped boost the economy in this part of Belfast by being at the forefront of new ideas and technologies. We look forward to this trend continuing as more and more start-up companies see the benefits of locating in a vibrant business hub in the west of the city,” she added.

As a centre of innovation and business development, Innovation Factory has exceeded all of its targets with almost 800 businesses accessing its services through a mix of support, masterclasses, one-to-one mentoring and applied innovation events.

Innovation Factory has engaged closely with the local community, working extensively with colleges organising placements for young people and with schools inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

With 96% of IF procurement spend to date committed locally in Belfast, it has also developed relationships with West Belfast businesses to stimulate the local economy and increase local supply chain expenditure.

Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.

Customers include a range of start-ups and growing businesses in a variety of sectors including digital services, creative industries, business services, financial services and research and development.

For more information on the Innovation Factory visit: www.innovationfactoryni.com