Belfast Friendship Club
Belfast Friendship club (BFC) was set up to welcome and join people from all walks of life into a diverse, supportive and relaxed environment. It offers a safe and inclusive space where meaningful connections and friendships develop irrespective of backgrounds or circumstances, be that migrant worker, unemployed, retiree, asylum seeker or refugee etc. It is a place that works on the principles of equality, respect and solidarity where people exchange information, get involved in activities and events and make friends and help one another.
Before the start of the pandemic their weekly cafe meetings attracted 30-60 people from all over the world, 20-25% of whom are from the UK and Ireland. Members and newcomers would socialise and enjoy a range of games, crafting, free catering and music from their resident DJ or simply sit with a cup of coffee.
Funding from the NET Coronavirus Appeal, through the Northern Ireland Community Foundation, was used by the BFC in two ways: to keep their members and others connected online and to give them reasons to be cheerful.
The team quickly identified that asylum seekers were most at risk of digital exclusion so established the Keep Talking project which allowed them to remotely top up phone credit on a monthly basis. The scheme impacted more than 50 individuals.
A weekly BFC feel-good music podcast hosted by an in-house DJ helped to keep up spirits, with funding supporting the purchase of equipment and access software to enhance the production quality of the podcast. 30 podcasts have been broadcast so far giving members a chance to unify around the musical choices, announcements and dedications that usually take place at the club.
To find out more about this brilliant project, read the BFC’s guest blog.