Laura Coulter and Emer McElhinney are both Good Relations Officers, with Radius and Apex respectively, for the €1.1 m initiative which brings together social housing residents on a cross-community and cross-border basis.
Laura Coulter has lived and worked in Northern Ireland for 25 years as a peace-builder and mediator in efforts to address the causes and impacts of the N.I. conflict.
From a background in community development, Laura’ developed a growing interest in peace-building which led to work in both secular and faith-based areas. She went on to specialise in mediation as well as community and faith-based dialogue programmes.
Laura was also involved in delivering programmes specifically dealing with N.I. conflict-related issues such as contentious parades, coming to terms with the past, and on-going community tensions and violence. In recent years, Laura’s career has taken her further afield – to countries such as Eastern Europe, Kenya and most recently Nepal, where she lived and worked for 2 ½ years as a Peace-Building Advisor with United Mission to Nepal.
Emer McElhinney has worked in various positions within the community sector across a wide variety of communities including youth, older people, travelling community, ethnic minority tenants within new developments and secured funding for a range of community development projects.
She’s also been involved in Good Relations programmes including delivering cultural showcases, storytelling and yarn spinning sessions, in addition to assisting in the development of community gardens and murals.
In addition, Emer has volunteered with the City of Derry Drama Festival and promoted good inter-generational relations within Interface areas through this annual festival.
She holds BA in History and Geography and MSc in Regional and Local Development and Funding and enjoys supporting communities to draw on their local history and heritage to develop their local communities and their capacity to lead forward on new programmes.
Emer is looking forward to the challenge of the Housing Association Integration Programme and striving to improve good relations across tenants of all backgrounds and ages. She’s also enthusiastic about building communities and links across all social housing providers and equipping our tenants with the skills and confidence to continue to build their local communities and ensure that we meet our goal of a socially inclusive society.
The Housing Associations Integration Project is supported by the EU’s Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
The delivery partners in this project include the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) as Lead Partner, TIDES Training and Consultancy and four of NI’s largest housing associations (Apex, Choice, Clanmil and Radius).