Published: 6th May 2016
Northern Ireland- 1st August 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. 013 World Police and Fire Games Opening Ceremony at the Kings Hall Complex Belfast. Volunteers form the NOW Project who carried flags into the arena pictured before the event.
Photo credit: Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Volunteers form the NOW project who carried flags into the arena before the World Police and Fire Games opening ceremony.

Belfast has a rich history of social action and some of today’s social enterprise organisations date back to the early 1900s. Here are ten of the city’s best ideas for social change:

1. Building social supply chains: The Now Group: This social enterprise group tackles the barriers that prevent people with learning disabilities from accessing employment and training. It runs a range of services including Loaf Catering, which has two cafes and a corporate catering business. The group caters for Belfast’s city hall, whose Bobbin Cafe is a training facility for people with learning disabilities: http://www.nowgroup.org/

2. A street market as the catalyst for cultural revival: Folktown: The Bank Square area in the centre of Belfast is one of the oldest parts of the city and has a rich history and cultural heritage. Folktown has been set up as a community interest company to regenerate the area through cultural activities. A weekly outdoor street market has been set up in Bank Square and a range of local cultural events are planned: http://www.folktownbelfast.com

3. Collaborating around places: West Belfast Partnership: The West Belfast Partnership brings together the local community, councils and services, politicians and businesses for the social, physical, cultural and economic improvement of west Belfast. It leads the implementation of the strategic regeneration plan for the area as well as running initiatives such as the West Belfast Works programme: www.westbelfast-partnership.com/

communitygarden belfast 2
One of four Meanwhile community gardens in Belfast

4. ‘An incubator of innovative responses’: Bryson Group. Set up in 1906, Bryson Group has a long history of responding to local need, from its roots as a charity that built affordable housing and provided wirelesses for the bedridden in the 1930s to today’s corporate structure which sees it run seven businesses which provide a range of social services from care to employment training to recycling: http://www.brysongroup.org/

5. Creating ‘meanwhile’ community gardens in the city: Groundwork NI: Groundwork Northern Ireland has set up four pop-up community gardens in the Belfast area. Located on land that was earmarked for development but is now sitting derelict, in each garden a different community group takes control of the space until the end of the growing season in 2017. In each of the four gardens a range of community-building activities have taken place: https://www.facebook.com/IntheMEANWHILEcommunitygardensbelfast