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Belfast City

Volunteers Strut Their Stuff For The Rainbow Project

Volunteers rehearsing their steps ahead of the big show to raise funds for The Rainbow Project.

Practice makes perfect, or at least that’s what they say. Twenty-eight amateur dancers are practicing over the next few weeks to strut their stuff in Belfast City Hall, on Saturday 19th May. By kind permission of the Rt Hon, The Lord Mayor Cllr. Nuala McAllister, who has chosen The Rainbow Project as one of her nominated charities for this year.

The event will take place during LGBT Awareness Week which in encompasses International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). LGBT Awareness Week will see many events take place across Northern Ireland, from family fun days to art shows, from hill walking to dancing. Showcasing the positive contribution the LGBT community brings to Northern Ireland.

Fundraising

The event aims to raise funds to support The Rainbow Project’s range of mental, physical and sexual health services for LGBT people and their families across Northern Ireland. The fourteen couples will go head to head on the night to receive hopeful perfect tens from our Judges Gavin Boyd, Policy and Advocacy Manager at The Rainbow Project, Ross Anderson-Doherty, Cake Daddy and Creative Director of Cabaret Supper Club, along with Guest of Honour, Lord Mayor Cllr. Nuala McAllister.

For the first time The Rainbow Project’s director John O’Doherty will be competing as a dancer with his husband Martin. O’Doherty said: ‘I’m thrilled to be able to dance in the contest for the first time as a married man. I’m so thankful for all the dancers who are giving up their time and challenging themselves in this way. And of course we are very thankful that the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nuala McAllister has been such a supporter of The Rainbow Project during her tenure and has very kindly agreed to host us in City Hall and join us a judge on the night.’

Volunteers rehearsing their steps ahead of the big show. to raise funds for The Rainbow Project.

Volunteers rehearsing their steps ahead of the big show to raise funds for The Rainbow Project.

Glitz & Glamour

One volunteer dancer, Aisling Twomey has said ‘I jumped at the chance to do Strictly. It was a no-brainer for me after my friends had participated in previous strictly events. Not only I am helping to support the wonderful work of The Rainbow Project by learning a new skill but it helps me personally by challenging myself to battle my nerves. This show has all the strictly excitement about it, full on glitz and glamour! I can’t wait to put on my sequins and dance my way to the trophy!’

Mayor’s Support

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister said: “During my year in office, I’ve strived to help make Belfast a welcoming, inclusive city for all and the work of The Rainbow Project is vital in giving a voice to so many people in our city, they consistently support, advocate for and provide vital service to the LGBT+ community. The work Rainbow do helps to make Belfast the colourful and diverse city it is.

“City Hall is a wonderful venue for this fundraising event- and I am looking forward to seeing top dancers strut their stuff to help raise money for a great charity, and I’m delighted to give them my support.”

Tickets are available now and are limited, so get yours now, while you still can here.

Belfast City

Cathedral Quarter BID Celebrates Success Of Street Beat Police Presence In Area

An initiative that saw additional dedicated police officers patrolling Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter has been welcomed as a proven success story by Destination CQ’s manager Damien Corr.

The Ballot for the continuation of the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) is currently open until September 22. In an independent survey carried out in advance of the ballot, the Street Beat (#streetbeat) programme was seen as one of the key projects that adds value for businesses and organisations in the area, over 90% of respondents prioritised it for inclusion in the Business Plan for the next 5 years.

The StreetBeat officers are paid for by the BID and are additional to the normal policing provided by PSNI. The initiative was a direct response to local business owners’ concerns regarding antisocial activity within the areas. 

BID manager Damien Corr said: “As the businesses are paying for the service, it was essential that they felt in ‘control’, accordingly the officers have a designated phone which our Cathedral Quarter businesses can call direct 07787432635. This ability to bypass the general PSNI Switchboard is key to a more effective localised response.”

The officers patrol the area on foot and in their distinctive CQ street beat branded vehicle, dealing with anti-social behaviour and criminal activity. They also visit premises offering practical security and personnel safety advice and equipment.

StreetBeat PSNI officer Michael Gillies added: “Being given the time and support both by the BID and PSNI management, I have been allowed to focus my work specifically within the Cathedral Quarter and its needs. 

“This has helped to strengthen relationships already made with businesses and also to forge new ones. It’s back to basics Neighbourhood policing, only this time the neighbourhood is my local business community”.

However, the future of the scheme in the Cathedral Quarter relies on a ‘yes’ vote for a new five-year term for the Business Improvement District organisation Destination CQ.

With ballot papers already issued and voting by post closing on September 22, Mr Corr is keen to remind voters of what could be lost without their votes.

“The BID levy payers have told us that they really appreciate the work done by our Street Beat officers who, between them, have provided 2080 extra policing hours targeted patrolling,” he said. 

“They were particularly effective over lockdown when lots of properties were left unattended. Our officers continued to patrol, checking on closed business premises and providing assurance and practical assistance to those who continued to work.

“It is a simple reality, that unless we get a yes vote in the ballot, aloof this additional targeted policing will be lost to Cathedral Quarter.”

Sorcha Woolsy, Operations Director of Beannchor with a number of businesses in the BID area said the BID has carried out a number of projects that have impacted the Beannchor suite of businesses.

“The one that really stands out to me is the provision of the City Centre Beat Officers,” she added.

“It’s a really good example of an initiative that a BID can provide that an individual business could not on their own. 

“For me, it is imperative to vote yes on the re-ballot of the BID. The collective energy and brainpower and money of a group of businesses all pulling in the same direction for the betterment of this area will inevitably gain better results than individual businesses doing little bits and pieces on their own.”

For more information on the work of Destination CQ and Street Beat go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com or contact Damien Corr on 02890 314 011.

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Belfast City

CQ BID Celebrates Five Years Of Being Voice For All In Cathedral Quarter

Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District, Destination CQ, has for five years been the collective voice for every business in the area, lobbying and consulting with local and regional government and government agencies.

Destination CQ Manager, Damien Corr said the ability to go to these organisations and speak for everyone in the Cathedral Quarter, Smithfield and Union, is one that can’t go unnoticed.

“We are involved in most stakeholder groups in the city and that’s something that our levy payers don’t see a lot of,” he explained. 

“It takes up a lot of our time but it’s very worthwhile.

“The ability to lobby for individual businesses, or for the entire area, direct to departments is important, and we work away on issues until we are successful or reach an acceptable compromise.”

The pressures of the pandemic, shop closures and the complete halt to tourism have affected the economy as a whole but it also had a significant effect on the Cathedral Quarter. This inner-city neighbourhood, characterised by arts, culture, restaurants, entertainment and independent shops relies on tourists and visitors to survive.  

Over the past five years, Destination CQ has represented business interests at City Reopening Stakeholder Group, City Centre Anti-Social Behaviour Action Group and the Small Business Forum.

At present there is a ballot to continue the BID’s work for a further five years and voting Yes to the BID means local businesses can present a unified front and have a collective voice when engaging with the various stakeholders, either local government or assembly level.

When asked about the importance of banding together to present a collective voice, Sorcha Wolsey, Operations Director for the Beannchor Group and Destination CQ BID Board member said it was important that businesses come together.

“The collective energy, brainpower and money of a group of businesses all pulling in the same direction for the betterment of this area will inevitably gain better results than individual businesses doing little bits and pieces on their own,” she said.

The business improvement district has been actively championing the area, partnering with promotional activities such as the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to help restaurants in the area recover from the effects of the pandemic. 

There have been numerous BID led initiatives that greatly benefited businesses in the neighbourhood. Culture Night and Restaurant Week are just some examples of the projects that make CQ a vibrant place to do business. 

Board member and Director of Quigg Golden, Gavin Hendrie said Cathedral Quarter needed a body to explain the issues and promote the area.

“We need a champion for the area,” he explained. “We need the BID to help advertise the CQ as a place to come, to maintain the sense of vibrancy that we’ve known in the past and perhaps lost in the last 18 months.”

Supporting local businesses remains one of the three pillars the Business Improvement District plans to focus on in term two. Collective advocacy is still a priority with creating a strong alliance among stakeholders and ensuring BID members’ voice is heard in key city-wide discussions.

Les Hume, Vice-Chair of CQ BID explained why it is crucial to be represented as a collective:

“By being part of a collective we can present a reasoned, well thought through debate, we can actually bring our concerns and our troubles to the people who make the key decisions,” he said. 

“I think that in the next five years we’re going to have even greater challenges as we try to build Belfast back better.

“To vote yes for this BID process means that your voice can be heard, along with mine hopefully. Together we’ll make Belfast better.

“Individually we will struggle. That’s what I think is good about a Business Improvement District, so please do consider voting yes.”

For more information on how the work of Destination CQ BID can benefit your business go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com or contact Damien Corr on 02890 314 011.

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