Northern Ireland news

Story of a community in transformation immortalised in print

Resurgam Trust director director Adie Bird.

THE story of a how a part of Lisburn - once second in the list of undesirable places to live in Northern Ireland - grew into a thriving community, has been documented in print.

Conflict to Peace - Our Community Transformation, tells of the 22-year journey that turned the Old Warren estate from an economic wasteland into a desirable postcode.

Speaking at the launch of the book the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson said when he was elected at MP for Lagan Valley in 1997 he set about developing stronger relationships with the community he was representing.

The Resurgam Trust, taken from the Latin motto for Lisburn 'Ex Igne Resurgam', was born out of a number of community groups including the local Prisoners Support Project which was run by former UDA prisoner Adie Bird.

Writing for the book Mr Donaldson said: "Adie came to see me at my office in Lisburn, the first of many such meetings.

"He recognised that I had a problem with his project and we discussed the work they were doing and what it meant for the individuals concerned and their families.

"I pointed out that the name of the project tended to label ex-prisoners in away that may be unhelpful to their future.

"Adie went away and thought about this and subsequently suggested that the project be re-named the ‘People Support Project' and so began the change in direction that was to be critical in the transformation of the lives of those from the Old Warren and other parts of Lisburn intimately involved in the Troubles".

Unlike other community groups Resurgam did not rely totally on unpredictable government funding and instead borrowed and invested money, raising revenue initially by building and selling affordable local homes.

The trust now owns 11 residential homes offering affordable and supported accommodation and owns a small portfolio of commercial and community buildings.

Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey attended the launch at the Linen Museum in Market Square in Lisburn last Friday praising the work carried out by the group over the last 22 years.

Mr Bird said: "From humble beginnings, the Resurgam Trust is flourishing, with a membership in excess of 1,000 individuals ... we have created sustainable employment for 130 people and own six social enterprises which in 2018 had an annual turnover of £1.58m.

"This book will demonstrate that we have achieved a lot but there is much more work to be done as things are not perfect".

Conflict to Peace - Our Community Transformation, is available from the Resurgam Trust.

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