South Belfast Alternatives

South Belfast AlternativesSouth Belfast Alternatives is our newest location, and began to serve the communities within South Belfast in April of 2010. Diversity is a hallmark of this part of Belfast, and the diverse ethnicities, languages, and religious identities present unique challenges and concerns. Acknowledging and embracing these challenges, South Belfast Alternatives works to increase dialogue, build bridges of understanding, and break down stereotypes/misunderstanding. Focus areas of our work include hate crimes advocacy and awareness, cultural education, schools work, and family support.

Hate crimes advocacy/awareness – The restorative practice approach is unique to Alternatives in making a difference to racism and both victims/offenders of hate crimes. Our community development driven model provides intensive support for the victims of hate crime, education for offenders and those most at-risk to offend, and reaching out to the immigrant communities in order to determine needs and support for issues such as poor english skills, domestic violence, and mental health. These balanced approaches address existing problems, but also proactively reduces tension within the community. The result in the longer term will be more welcoming communities with decreased levels of hate crime attacks, intimidation, and fear of crime.

Cultural Education – Loyalism has a strong history of welcoming other cultures into our communities, and several of our programmes focus on an awareness of this heritage, as well as disspelling the misconceptions of perceived heightened racism. Sport, commemorations, historical site visits, and presentations, all provide opportunities for recognizing the existence of ethnic minorities, their contributions to the Union, and embracing their permanence within our communities.

Schools Work – Programmes continue to be delivered in school providing mediation training and restorative interventions to help young people solve their conflicts in more positive ways. Our schools programme also helps teachers deal with their most challenging pupils by providing more interactive sessions for them and one to one support and mentoring.

Sourced from a broader PSNI programme, the One Punch Campaign aims to raise awareness of ‘One Punch’ attacks. Aimed at males aged between 18-25, the campaign highlights the risks of getting involved in an argument or fight which could ultimately lead to serious injury or death. With just one punch, lives have been destroyed and families’ lives have been wrecked, with devastating impacts on the victim, the offender, and both families. We aim to educate young people while also explaining they can go out but to enjoy it and be safe.