Project Directory - Project Entry

CCRU home background on CCRU community relations equality and equity research

Project Title:Peace & Reconciliation Group: Expand Existing Service Provision (new premises)
Contact:Tanya Gallagher - Co-ordinator
Shirley Brace - Resource Administrator
Address:Peace & Reconciliation Group
18-20 Bishop Street
BT48 6PW
Telephone:01504 369206
Fax:01504 377009


The Peace and Reconciliation group has been in existence since 1976. The Group was a voluntary organisation who identified a need to work at a grass roots level on cross community issues in a local context. For most of these years the Group worked out of a small office in London Street. As the work of the group expanded it soon became clear that the office premises were unsuitable for the functional needs of the organisation. The building itself was damp with two small offices. The work continued but the state and size of the building meant that issues of confidentiality and perceptions of professionalism were being compromised. Our last evaluation commissioned by the CRC also outlined the need for improved premises. When PSEPII funds became available the Group made an application for funding to relocate the office in a more suitable building. Having received support from CCRU and the 25% matching funds from IFI, the group moved to 18-20 Bishop Street in November 1995 with the official opening in January 1996. The move has made a huge difference to our work on several levels:

1) perception and image of the PRG
2) content of the programming activity
3) staff development.

1) Perception and Image:
The previous CRC evaluation of the office made it clear that both staff and management were concerned at the suitability of the existing premises. The evaluator also interviewed individuals from the city who commented on the premises. A first impression of the office from one individual said "it suggests a Mickey Mouse operation". The office facilities gave a general impression that the employees were not professional and were simply nice people doing nice things. The same individual went on to highlight that once you became aware of the work of the group this image did not stand up as they "...were more concerned with action and getting things done". Since the move several other community organisations have used the office space and the ability to hold meetings in an atmosphere of confidentiality has undoubtedly improved on the image and perception of the PRG. Other individuals involved in community relations and community development work in the city have become regular users of the office. In fact, before the move, networking with other agencies would not have been as apparent prior to PSEP support.

2) Programming Activity:
Since the move the Group has thought about it's role and impact in the community. The increase in office space has allowed the Group to organise meetings and training events which were, for the first time, held in our own premises. Other organisations such as NIACRO, Northwest Network, local community groups etc. have used the office for their own meetings as the premises are seen as a neutral venue and are in a central location, with the availability of equipment such as OHP, slide projector and video.

3) Staff:
A good working environment plays an essential role in maintaining staff motivation and is also helpful when recruiting new members of staff and volunteers. The volunteer programme has been helped by the availability of space for meetings and training sessions. New employees have commented on the office environment and see a direct correlation to the professionalism of the group on their first impression. Staff have been able to host meetings with the community and statutory organisations. In particular the increase in office space has meant that the confidential nature of some of the groups work, such as RUC and Army liaison, has improved and gives those individuals a sense of security when entering the premises.

The group also deals with individuals who are under threat from paramilitary activity such as punishment attacks and expulsion orders. In these cases individuals are usually emotionally distressed and require sensitivity and confidentiality. The added space allows the individual to feel safe and provides an atmosphere where they can be at ease to tell their story. The staff member who deals with this work has said that the increase in office space has improved the way in which she can interact with the victims of such threats.

The money received from PSEPII funding has been allocated to:
a) office rental for three years
b) expansion of office equipment: computers, OHP, slide projector, video etc.
c) the provision of adequate office furniture: desks, chairs, carpet etc.

The CRC has once again commissioned an evaluation on the work of the group in the last three years. The evaluator began work in July 1997 and the first draft should be completed in October 1997. The improvement in office premises will be a factor in the perception and work of the group in the last two years.

© CCRU 1998-1999
site developed by: Martin Melaugh
page last modified:
Back to the top of this page