Rural Shared History Programme - PRESS RELEASE

Rural Community Network (RCN), a regional rural organisation based in Cookstown, Co, Tyrone, is pleased to announce that it has received an investment of £35,000 for a new project working across rural NI called "100 Years of Change – Rural Shared History Programme".

The project is part of the Shared History Fund, which The National Lottery Heritage Fund is delivering on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office, to help groups mark the centenary in a thoughtful, inclusive and engaging way.
This project aims to work with all sections of the community right across rural NI through a wide range of programmes: these programmes include a digital storytelling, archive and media project', the rolling out of 3 shared history courses focusing on key historical events and personalities of the period 1920 – 1922, as well as working directly with rural practitioners and volunteers at a grass roots level who have an interest in heritage, history and good relations, with particular focus on the last 100 years. The project will commence May 2021 and will run until March 2022. There will be plenty of opportunities for rural communities to take part in discussions, training, conferences, events and workshops.

Kate Clifford, Director Rural Community Network, said:
“RCN is an organisation steeped in difficult, challenging and very rewarding peacebuilding work. Over our lifetime this organisation has sought to build understanding, to get beyond rhetoric and to explore with those who are different from ourselves. In all we have done, we hold close the principles of community development that our organisation was founded upon. We have approached the Decade of Centenaries work with a strong sense of exploration and learning from the past and an ambition to build a more peaceful future for all of the people we work alongside. Working within Ethical and Shared remembering guidelines and reflective practice techniques, we are delighted to be resourced to develop a programme of work through the Shared History Fund. This investment will provide us with an opportunity to enable others living in rural communities to develop new skills, to share experiences and to encounter different and new perspectives on the history of this region.”
 
Mukesh Sharma, Chair, Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:
“We are delighted to support Rural Community Network through the Shared History Fund, a programme we are delivering to help a wide range of groups mark the Centenary of Northern Ireland in a thoughtful, inclusive and engaging way. This is an opportunity for the 39 projects funded to explore key moments and events in our history, as well as engage with a wide range of communities to understand what Northern Ireland means to them. As a leading funder of heritage throughout the UK, we understand the central role that heritage plays in people’s lives and their communities. We also recognise that there are aspects of heritage that can be challenging. Through the Shared History Fund, we are delighted to fund a diverse range of projects which will not only mark the Centenary but will show how we can engage with difficult heritage going forward.”
 
Martin McDonald MBE, Chair of Community Relations Council, said:
“The Community Relations Council has invested in the Rural Community Network through our Core Fund programme over many years. During that time CRC has supported the Rural Community Network to build the capacity of rural communities to develop and sustain better community relationships. We congratulate the staff and Board of Rural Community Network on the launch of this new and exciting project "100 Years of Change - Rural Shared History Programme". It is pleasing to see another example of the principles for ethical remembering that CRC developed with The National Lottery Heritage Fund put to practical use in the community. The principles ask us to start from the historical facts; recognise the implications and consequences of what happened; understand that different perceptions and interpretations exist; show how events and activities can deepen understanding of the period; and all to be seen in the context of an inclusive and accepting society. The training and dialogue programme in this project will engage rural communities across the region and help them embed these valuable principles into everyday life.”