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BAME Networking Event

CDHN’s Elevate Team were delighted to host a BAME Networking event in Footprint’s Women’s Centre on Wednesday 6th March. All our current Elevate mentees were invited, including the seven groups who work with the BAME community, to hear about services and resources available throughout the region. 

The event was a great success, with four organisations telling us their origin stories and sharing information. We finished off the day with a fabulous lunch provided by the Footprints staff and an opportunity for the mentees to chat with each other and the visiting organisations to further cement connections made through the Elevate programme. 

Our first speaker was Dr Nisha Tandon, who founded ArtsEkta in 2006 on the principles of inclusivity, creativity and openness in all aspects of society – Ekta means ‘uniting’ in the Indian language.

ArtsEkta is a multi-award winning cultural organisation that works to develop intercultural relationships at the heart of the community and is home to the Belfast Mela – the largest celebration of cultural diversity on the island of Ireland. Bringing together communities of Belfast and beyond, ArtsEkta creates projects that inspire engagement with the diversity, tastes, rhythms and sights that make up the multicultural life of NI. Nisha was also excited to inform us about Little Amal, a 12 foot puppet which has become a global symbol of human rights, coming to Belfast in May. Find out more about Little Amal and ArtsEkta’s work at

Ciara and Arwa from East Belfast GAA club let us know how this cross-community and cross-cultural club have grown over the past number of years. In their Youth Academy there are currently 40 refugee & asylum seeking members from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq and Yemen. The club encourages involvement from the whole family and try to remove as many of the social and economic barriers faced by marginalised families and one way in which they do that is to run G4MO (Gaelic For Mothers and Others) training sessions at the same time as Youth sessions, removing barriers such as additional transport or childcare so that Mothers & Others can enjoy the huge benefits of team sport. The club is hosting a ‘Come and Try’ day for their youth and Gaelic for Mothers & Others teams on Sat 6th April. Contact Ciara at to find out more. 

Next up was Isreal and Tiwalade from iAssist-NI, which is an organization with a charitable purpose to serve the community at its core. Isreal generously shared some of his own journey with us and Tiwalade told us how the organisation works with people from the BAME communities suffering long-term illnesses and disabilities and who have been living in Belfast for some years, by providing them with befriending services at their homes. The organisation supports people and individuals with health difficulties: to live healthily and thus, enable them to live to their full potentials; to develop a range of interventions and services that can help people/individuals suffering health difficulties to cope with challenging times; to work closely with people suffering health difficulties to improve engagement and participation so they can become an integral part of their communities and to help eliminate total isolation and its impact on health and well-being. Find out more about iAssist’s services at

We were also delighted to welcome Niamh from Law Centre NI. She informed us of the many ways that the Law Centre has worked for social justice in NI over the past 45 years including helping thousands of people to challenge decisions that affect their rights. This is achieved through free, independent and specialist legal advice, casework and representation. The Migration Justice Project within Law Centre NI uses policy, research and community engagement to ensure that communities impacted by immigration control (particularly refugees and people seeking asylum) are aware of, and can access, their rights and entitlements. Law Centre NI provide information and training sessions, produce multilingual legal information resources and briefings on developments in refugee and asylum policy. You can find our resources here: . If you need assistance with any of these issues, please contact Law Centre NI’s advice line on 028 9024 4401.