Community Lives Exhibition to open in Enniskillen and Omagh

18th February 2019

Community Lives, a new cross-community programme, organised by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, has been delivered across the district over the last number of months.

The programme is one of 16 projects identified in the Fermanagh and Omagh PEACE IV Local Action Plan to benefit from a total funding package of £2.8m to deliver projects across three key strands; Shared Spaces and Services, Children and Young People and Building Positive Relations at a local level. The project is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Community Lives aims to capture local community stories, to dispel myths and increase understanding of our shared history through the art of storytelling, videography and photography and is seeking to build community cohesion, strengthen the voice of local communities and promote positive mental health and emotional well-being. The programme is being delivered by Verbal, on behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and focuses on three interrelated strands; Capturing the History, Mapping the Present and Imagining the Future.

The first strand “Capturing the History” comprised community-based research, reminiscence work and inter-generational work with residents and former residents of areas across the district to record and represent the living history. Participants had the opportunity to produce publications and online materials, as well as working with a professional photographer to produce an exhibition of their work. Strand 2, “Mapping the Present”, involved working with community and youth groups across the district and bringing them together through the development of skills in film making, photography and mixed-media. The participants have created short digital stories which highlight the challenges young people face in today’s society.

The final strand “Imagining the Future” combines the work from Capturing the History and Mapping the Present through a series of sessions which provide participants with the opportunity to develop their visions for the future. Experienced photographer, Paola Bernardelli has been working with participants over the past 16 weeks building up a portfolio of images which mark important events in their lives and their communities. These images will be the subject of two unique exhibitions which will take place in the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh from 27 February to 17 March and Enniskillen Castle from 1 March to 12 March 2019.

Speaking about the programme, the Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh PEACE IV Partnership, Councillor Errol Thompson said;

“Community Lives has been an engaging and creative programme, which has brought people together, both young and old to share stories from their communities. This exhibition showcases those stories and I would encourage everyone to call in and view the works on display”.

Groups taking part in this project include, the Probation Board NI, The Men’s Shed, Harold McCauley House, GK House, Hospital Road Community Association, Devenish and Westend Community groups, Millverne Residential Care Home, The Stroke Association and Tir Navar.

James Kerr, Director for Verbal, spoke of his excitement ahead of the exhibitions.

“At Verbal we believe that every story matters and that everyone, regardless of ability, background or circumstance, should have the opportunity to tell their story. We are absolutely delighted to partner with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to deliver this project and offer participants the opportunity to share and tell their stories through creative means such as photography.

“We are very much looking forward to the exhibitions and hearing and seeing these fascinating stories for ourselves.”

Match funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.