Next Chapter women say the future is our choice!

Friday 06 December 2019

Next Chapter women say the future is our choice!

Newtownabbey Chapter launch 'Our Chapter' community project mural and celebrate their journey together

Women from The Next Chapter Newtownabbey Chapter launched their Community Project on Tuesday 3 December at Merville House, Glengormley.

Next Chapter participant Jackie Barrow welcomed over 50 invited guests to the event and following speeches from Mirjam Bader, Politics Plus Programmes Manager, responsible from The Next Chapter project and Regional Co-Ordinator Mary McDonald, Mayor Alderman John Smyth from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council addressed the audience.

Photo: Mayor Alderman John Smyth from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council addressed the audience

Chapter members took it in turns to share their thoughts about their own Next Chapter journey and experiences.

Nancy Papifio, spoke about Next Chapter Capacity Building Training: " It was exciting meeting the rest of the group and sharing our personal experiences of the conflict in Northern Ireland and how it affected women from all areas of life regardless of where they lived. Some of the younger members had only known NI since the Good Friday Agreement and some from other countries only knew what had been portrayed in the media. "Women Champions of Peacebuilding’ Training highlighted the vital role women play to ensure there is ongoing peace in our country for future generations & the benefits of women working together & getting involved regardless of their background.”

Arlene Logue spoke about communications training ‘Developing a Powerful Voice’ and ‘Communicating with Impact’: "This training has been invaluable to me and has given me the confidence to speak in public. This is something I would not have even tried before now. Training to be on camera was the scariest thing I have done and with a voice like mine it really worried me. But it just shows with great training you can do anything you put your mind to."

Karina Padillao Oviedo spoke about networking: “I’m from Colombia and I’ve been living in Northern Ireland for almost 5 years.  I joined the Next Chapter program, because a friend of mine recommended it to me, since I was thinking about taking a new career direction, because I struggled finding a job as a lawyer. I also wanted to explore the possibility of joining public and political life and find out more about my local community too… It was a difficult process to settle here for many reasons, I couldn’t find a job, I didn’t know people from my local community and my husband and I rarely took part in local activities. At The Next Chapter we exchanged fresh ideas about how women can contribute in our society & how we can continue to be women champions of peace building in our community.”

Denzi Lee McConnell spoke about attending a Ted Talk event organised by Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh Chapter: "It was truly inspiring and it was a great opportunity for myself and some of the other girls who attended to get a real insight of what TED is all about. Not only that, but we were able to meet and connect with some great woman who attended from another chapter and listen to their own experiences." 

Noreen Keers spoke about the Peace and Reconciliation visit to Dáil Éireann that took place in September 2019. Over 80 women from the 10 Chapters across Northern Ireland and the border counties in the Republic of Ireland visited Dáil Éireann to meet with invited members of the Irish Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, attend Leader’s Questions and spend time with each other at a cross community and cross border event. The Chapters joined together at the start of the day by travelling on shared buses from across the counties.

Maggie Moohan spoke about being accepted onto the Boardroom Apprentice, a training programme that offers individuals the opportunity of becoming an apprentice board member, a twelve-month board placement and training programme, aimimg to bridge the gap between aspiration and reality for those who want to serve on boards in the third and public sector. There are over 45 Host Boards from across the public and third sectors (health, education, justice, funding, young people, older people, housing and community), all keen to provide this opportunity for aspiring Board Members. Maggie is apprentice on the Board of Nexus NI which deals with sexual violence. She highlighted her growth in confidence and ability to stand up and speak to an audience as a result of her experience.

Kathy Wolff introduced the murals as part of the group's Community Project.

Photo: Kathy Wolff presented the story behind the murals and Chapter members assisted with the unveiling of the three panels

'Our Chapter' Community Project by Kathy Wolff

"We started work on our Community Project with lots of discussion, changing ideas and things that we might do before we came to the idea of a lasting legacy, a set of murals for the community.
The first mural is about the past, "The Past is our motivator". When you see the ladies on these boards, Lilian Bland, the first lady to both build and fly her own biplane and Sadie Lee, the first women to take part in a TT race,  you can understand why we use these women to motive us. Both ladies not afraid to go for what they want.
The second mural is about the present "The Present is Our Gift". Yes we have the gift to pass on all our knowledge to others, to help shape the next generation, to encourage women from all backgrounds to get involved in civic life.
The third mural is about the future "The Future is Our Choice". Yes we can choose how we want our future to look like if we make the effort to help shape it. We can willingly hand over the mantel to others and help everyone when needed.

These murals show the past, present and future and how we can shape it for others."

Photo: Invited guests included Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Mayor Alderman John Smyth; Artist Marion Noon; Bronagh Hinds and Anne Hope from DemocraSHE; Jeremy Adams from Craic NI; Community Police Officers from PSNI; Dancers from Fusion Latina NI: Mirjam Bader, Politics Plus Programmes Manager, Mary McDonald and Liz Beaton from Politics Plus The Next Chapter and participants from the Newtownabbey Next Chapter group.

Guests enjoyed a series of performances by dancers from Fusion Latina NI followed by a light supper.

 Watch out for the murals at Barron Hall Community Center, 230 Antrim Road, Newtownabbey.

The Next Chapter project is run by Politics Plus, working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Community and Voluntary Association and Irish Rural Link. This project is funded by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding for The Next Chapter project is provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.