Our activities during the Pandemic
Our STAY ACTIVE STAY CREATIVE in tackling COVID-19 project, was used to assist BAME communities both young and old. Thirty families benefited from internet dongles to stay connected with their families locally and abroad, and to enable our youth to complete schoolwork online. A Community Development and Capacity webinar training program was provided which fifteen youths benefited from. Socially prescribed packs containing indoor and outdoor sporting activities and arts and crafts to promote an active and creative lifestyle were provided. Thirty families also received multi-cultural food ingredients to encourage families to make meals together, to promote healthy eating and awareness of cultural dishes. We also delivered warm cultural meals and a sweet cake to our wonderful NHS staff, to recognise staff and thank them for their hard work.
This grant has had a really positive impact on our 305 individuals who benefited, as due to Covid restrictions they were suffering immensely with their physical and mental health. We were especially concerned about our youth, as some children were not receiving a hot meal each day, however with the provision of these ingredients the children were ensured of receiving the nutrition they need to keep them fit and healthy. As a lot of our members have been confined to their homes due to socially isolating, they have had no connection with their loved ones or have the support from others to help them with the provision of mobile phone, gas, and electric top-ups, along with microwavable meals to vulnerable adults who live in folds and local communities to ensure that they were able to connect with others. To support our youth’s mental health, which was negatively impacted due to Covid, MSCNI was able to access a mental health course delivered by MINDS mental health charity whose remit was to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining good mental health, including trigger factors, how to recognise the signs of negative changes in their mental health, along with coping mechanisms to help them through this difficult time they were facing. Our youth have also benefited from gaining the knowledge and understanding in how to build capacity within their own communities along with leadership skills, such as strategic planning on completion of the course. The feedback collated from MSCNI’S Survey has unambiguously informed the organisation that the aforementioned resources considerably alleviated the pressures experienced by our communities. Knowing that such valuable and much needed resources were accessible, the consensus within the community is that due to a lack of employment opportunities, employability, and job losses due to the Covid pandemic, they continue to experience unmet needs.
Our project, ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE’, addressed social isolation due to COVID-19.This funding was awarded and supported by Forward South Partnership which was facilitated by Belfast City Council. Although this project was limited to the BAME members of South Belfast, MSCNI was most grateful to be able to help out the settled and newly arrived residents in South Belfast by providing the following.
Nappies, hygiene products, toiletries, and cleaning products.
Gas, Electricity, and mobile phone top ups.
Social Prescribed packs to reduce isolation and improve wellbeing.
According to our survey in which we conducted on survey monkey 99.5% of respondents found our packages beneficial and that our project helped tackle the isolation present at this time.
On Saturday 12 September 2020 , during the easement phase of Covid-19 restrictions, Multi-Ethnic Sports and Cultures took a group of 50 youths and their families, along with 10 volunteers to, ‘The Jungle NI Magherafelt’ activity centre to take part in our, ‘STAY ACTIVE ACTIVITY FUN DAY’, as a fun way to revitalise and ease the burden of the of those present.
All participants thoroughly enjoyed their day taking part in team building activities, quad biking, archery, paintballing and lots more. These activities were a great way for refreshing their minds considering that their mental health was suffering during lockdown. Government guidelines regarding PPE, hand sanitising and washing of hands regularly were implemented and monitored throughout the day by MSNCNI’S team of volunteers. Each participant benefited thoroughly from this project and enjoyed all the available activities.
We at MSCNI have been particularly heartened by the positive impact this project has had on our youth and their families who have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity of accessing it. We at MSCNI have witnessed first-hand the positive impact that this project has had on those who are most deserving, that we will endeavour to deliver(subject to funding) this project throughout the year as the demand outweighed the availability of places.
In addition to the project being so valuable in so many ways for the participants, we have been able to welcome new members and volunteers to our organisation, and we feel if we were to do more programs like this one we would build our volunteer capacity more and many more children and youth will benefit from it.
MSCNI participated in the Good Relations Week ,where we participated in enriching good relations through various activities over a 1-week period. Events included Youth engagement sessions on how to foster good relations in both BAME and local communities where they discussed their backgrounds, what they would like for the community they live in, and what could make it better. We also had performing artists who demonstrated their skills in dance which provided the participants with a taste of some cultural dancing including belly dancing, African tribe dance and hip hop to name a few. We concluded the good relations week with our Good Relations cup in commemoration of good relations week 2020 where we had 8 soccer teams compete against each other to lift the Good Relations Cup. Team who participated Connections Youth Project, Somalia Community, Nigeria Community, Poland Community, Syria Community, Ghana Community, Eritrea Community and BME Lions participated to compete for the Cup.
Winners: Connection’s youth project.
2nd: Somalia Community
3rd: Nigeria Community
MSCNI received an anonymous donation of £1121.00 .The committee convened a meeting to discuss how this donation would be best disbursed. Due to the high interest in our Back-To-School essential packs it was agreed to use part of this donation to purchase items for a further 100 packs for 100 children. As Halloween was not going to be normal and children would be unable to trick or treat due to the current pandemic, we decided to create Halloween trick or treat bags filled with goodies for the children and an activity pack to keep the children occupied, 50 of these packs were distributed and the remaining 50 were delivered to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. We at MSCNI are eternally grateful to the anonymous donor, as the monies enabled 200 children to benefit from the donation as detailed above.
This project supported 15 families in the South Belfast area who were in need, suffering poverty and had physical health issues resulting in them not being able to do their shopping. With the aid of this grant, we supported these families and provided healthy nutritional ingredients with a recipe to follow each week for 4 weeks. In addition, leaflets were provided to each family which contained information of the eat well guide plate, five a day, nutritional information of the recipes, portions of food guide. The leaflets also contained suggested interactive social and creative ideas for the whole family.
This funding enabled MSCNI to purchase sports equipment and technology to assist both BAME and local communities so when we hold our own organisational sporting programs we now have the use of :
1. Goal posts
4. Slalom poles
5. Free kick Mannequin
7. Tennis net
8. Mini garden tennis set
Along with these items we have been fortunate to receive a portable PA speaker system, x3 laptops for office use, printers, fax machine and laminator. All of which will be beneficial to our BAME and local communities to avail of when needed either within our drop-in centre or training sessions within their communities.
With funding provided by ,Forward South Partnership we were able to provide 50 families in South Belfast with Christmas food hampers, 25 of the hampers contained the traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, and the other 25 had multi-ethnic ingredients. With the provision of these hampers those who were facing financial hardship were relieved knowing they would have a home cooked dinner despite the prevailing circumstances.
Seven different countries were represented by participants in 2020 in the BAME programme, organised by Sport Uniting Communities (SUC), which is run by the Ulster GAA alongside the Irish Football Association(IFA), and Ulster Rugby in collaboration with Multi -Ethnic Sports and Culture NI (MSCNI).
The project aims to engage with the Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities in order to enhance participation by breaking down barriers, providing local cultural awareness sessions and opportunities to participate in each of the sports in a welcoming friendly atmosphere, at Olympia Leisure Centre in Belfast, which had been postponed due to the current pandemic guidelines.
To date, it has attracted 16 people from seven different countries, including participants from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Ethiopia, Portugal, Sudan, and Eritrea.
Each session consisted of education and participation around the sports and cultures within Gaelic games, football and rugby with participants having the opportunity to try the various skills involved with each sport, in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
The funding from this project helped to ease the financial burden of providing the essentials for families of school aged children and young people within our communities. We delivered lunch packs and one hot meal daily to 50 families to ensure they received a healthy nutritional meal along with 250 starter packs for families so as they would have the necessary requirements for their children on returning to school. With the provision of laptops being made available to members of our BAME community these enabled our communities to access resources online and to complete schoolwork. In order that everyone had an equal opportunity to access online resources a shared scheme was implemented on a weekly basis or when required. Our youth also engaged in cultural dance and drumming workshops, observing, and participating in African drumming skills and belly dancing ,these sessions were delivered online due the Covid restrictions.
Funded through The Northern Ireland Executive Office’s Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) strategy and supported by the Community Relations Council, the Connect programme is designed to continue to deliver good relations during the Covid-19 pandemic via the Zoom digital platform which ran seven weeks, with aims to offer a variety of informative sessions, from volunteering opportunities to racism awareness, disability training to refereeing, mental health to anti-sectarianism and even a virtual tour of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
We were delighted that when the program concluded one of our own BAME youths Viktor, was selected to be the first youth ambassador for the Youth Connect program, to deliver and facilitate workshops around diversity and racism in sports. We also worked alongside some amazing groups namely St Patricks FC, Alternatives NI and St Malachys YC.
35 families and lone parents benefited from this project, whereby every fortnight from November 2020 to February 2021 each family received food packages to the value of £30 which included healthy food, snacks, and ingredients to prepare healthy meals. With this assistance many of our families were relieved of some of their financial pressures. The Northern Health and Social Care Trust reached out to MSCNI requesting assistance with a Portuguese male who was self-isolating for medical reasons. Fortunately, one of our members was able to interpret for the service user as he had no family or friends to assist him, we had groceries delivered to his home each fortnight as he lived in Cookstown, and we regularly keep in contact to ensure that he does not feel alone.
This funding allowed MSCNI to install all of the recommended PPE according to the local government guidelines in the new office space and drop-in centre. Along with the PPE provision ,MSCNI have been able to purchase eight laptops for our, ‘Visionary Youth’, to complete their online course and workshops which will assist them on their journey to become positive peer role models ,as well as sports ambassadors within their communities.
- A Videography course facilitating 29 young people from the BAME communities in which they will be provided with the opportunity to explore historical landmarks in Northern Ireland’s and related history. All participants will create their own creative pieces of work with the cameras provided by MSCNI, which will then be showcased at our celebration gala night.
- Cultural Extravaganza – MSCNI through consultation with its members and local Ethnic Minority communities it has been identified the expressed desire to have opportunities for Ethnic Minority diaspora communities to celebrate their culture and identity in their new home in Northern Ireland. There is often a perceived tension between integration and cultural identity, with the belief that to have one the other must suffer.
- Variety Night the opportunity for cultural performances highlighting Ethnic Minority arts, music, dance, poetry, and other forms of cultural expression. Anyone who wants to participate can show up on the night and showcase their work, a few groups will be approached prior to the event to have a few performances already lined up. There will be one or two slots reserved for acts that showcase Northern Ireland’s cultural heritage. A highlight of the evening will be an opportunity for attendees to get involved in learning cultural games and exploring the heritage behind these games.
- Coach trip to discover Northern Ireland’s historical landmarks over a 2-day period in which participants will be taking on an educational tour on 2 separate occasions to explore some of the cultural and historical landmarks e.g., the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills whiskey distillery, Glenarm Castle.
- Mums and their children took part in a weekly exercise programs 3 times a week and every Saturday over a period of 6 weeks, they received ingredients to cook a nutritious meal, along with fruit and activity packs for their children to complete. We had representatives from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust who delivered weekly healthy eating talks and the importance of a balanced diet. All 20 women and their families enjoyed their weekly exercise program which promoted personal mental health awareness, provided the women with an opportunity to socially interact with others, and to build friendships as many had been socially isolated. The feedback from the women involved, was that they found each session beneficial and enjoyable, whilst inspiring them to continue with the exercise programs to do at home now that the program has concluded.
- This funding enabled MSCNI to set up its first drop -centre and by funding the first year’s rent, electricity, heating, IT installation, and Broadband. The drop-in centre serves our communities and youth groups for multiple purposes e.g., group meetings, a place to access information for sporting and educational programs, to deliver educational courses, and for our youth to receive 1-1 mentoring, as MSCNI works alongside IFA and other governing bodies .Additionally ,having our own personal office space, increased the capacity to store all of the socially prescribed packs of toiletries and food, making it more accessible for our beneficiaries to receive.
The Bulk Pallet Scheme and Forward South Partnership.
This additional round of funding enabled MSCNI to continue to support 50 families, and single parents by providing non-perishables, fruit, vegetables, toiletries. Our beneficiaries are extremely grateful for all the support provided by these two projects, as without this scheme they would not have been able to support their families.