DPCF was formed 25 years ago this year and is still going from strength to strength. There have been many changes and challenges over the years however we are all very proud of the many positive changes and achievements that have been made as a result of our continued work to deliver to the Community of Donegall Pass. The Forum grew out of the Donegall Pass Residents Community Group and still has a significant representation of residents on its Committee.
The late Harry Todd served as an office bearer and Chairperson for many years until his passing in 2014. Our meeting room is proudly named after him and there is also a plaque in memory of him on a bench in the community garden. Harry is still sadly missed both within the Forum and the community. We also pay tribute to the late Ken Orr who headed up our Community Education and Training section for many years until he retired one year before his passing in 2015. Ken was responsible for delivering educational programmes to countless residents over the years which made a positive impact on the lives of many.
The Forum would not be the success that it is without the many community volunteers over the years who have given their time to contribute towards a Donegall Pass that continues to grow as an attractive, inclusive, vibrant and safe Community.
“Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don’t talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.” ― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth
Some of the Forums achievements include the securing of land and the building of the Donegall Pass Community Centre in partnership with Belfast City Council and in partnership with The Dept of Education the adaption and refurbishment of a building for use of the present day Youth Centre.
Unsightly waste land on the main Donegall Pass where the old youth club stood was identified for community use by the Forum. We negotiated for the old unsafe building to be demolished and the land was later used to develop the community garden which is managed by the Forum and run by volunteers from the community.
The Forum also took the lead in securing funding from International Fund for Ireland and DSD for the purchase and refurbishment of the CRI Building which had previously been empty and falling into disrepair for ten years. The building now houses the present day DPCF offices, training rooms, health suite and community resources.
More recently DPCF secured the original funding for the implementation of Christmas street lights and summer hanging baskets which have now become an annual feature and really brighten up the area. We also consulted and contributed ideas on the design of the Rev Robert Bradford Play Park that is now completed and being enjoyed by many children in the area.
The original ideas for the use of the old PSNI station were proposed by DPCF and submitted to Urban Villages. It is now being delivered by a Community Interest Company which several past employees are involved in as Directors and who are taking forward the project.
In partnership with NIHE, DPCF have delivered services that have assisted countless residents through the years with their housing needs and DPCF has delivered a very successful Welfare Advice Service as well as Job Search and CV preparation provisions. It has also provided one to one counselling services through Lifeline and Pips to the people who are in need within the community.
Over the years the Forum has served the community by also delivering many events for families including educational trips, summer trips, seasonal celebrations held in the Community Garden including the Christmas Celebration events to name but a few. It has also held events in the Community Centre including Job Fares and Health Promotion Days. The Forum also introduced the annual Christmas Gift Voucher Scheme that provides every resident over the age of 60 with a voucher that can be used in any Tesco Supermarket. We also host a bi-monthly Seniors Lunch programme where the staff prepare and serve those who attend a healthy and nutritious meal, there is always some good craic and company to enjoy by all.
Our Community and Education section has delivered a wide variety of training programmes and projects that includes Information Technology, English, Maths and Skills training. Some of the projects focused on Volunteer Training, Horticultural Courses, Cultural, Arts and Crafts, Intergenerational, Cross Community and History programmes. More recently we have introduced Holistic Therapies, Indian Head Massage, Nail Technology and Make-Up courses.
Donegall Pass Community Forum has picked up many awards over the years including Overall Winner for Best Community Organisation in Co-operation Irelands “All Ireland Cities” Award, Best Community Garden in Belfast City Councils “Belfast in Bloom” competition and Urban Villages “Thriving Places” award.
We continue to work in partnership with residents to address issues of developments in the area including private development plans which impact upon the community and the future of Posnett Street to secure social and affordable housing for the area.
We are very grateful to Belfast Regeneration Office through The Department for Communities and Belfast City Council who have continued to provide crucial core funding which allows the Forum to deliver projects and services to the community of Donegall Pass and to enable us to plan and deliver for the community’s’ future needs.
Unfortunately in the Community Sector the future is always uncertain and faces many more challenges, however our priority and focus remains on creating and providing opportunities for all the Donegall Pass Community.
Finally a big thank you goes out to all the residents and businesses in Donegall Pass for their continued support.