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Fantastic to have representatives from various community projects on a local, regional, cross border and cross community basis come visit the BMSS team to hear our story and hold us as a model of good practice. 


All those in attendance were intrigued by the project and weren't short in asking questions (which is always good) proper civic engagement! 


The Individuals in attendance were part of the Ambit22 group that travelled to the USA and had the pleasure of spending time with our very own Philip (funny he never even mentioned he was going😜) 


Thankyou to all attendee's, no doubt we will Cross paths again in the very near future.

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On Wednesday 11th May BMSSP in conjunction with its partners and project architect held a stage 4 visioning session of the new shared space building. It was great to see the interest of local people in the project and viewing the mock ups really intrigued the group and it was clear the excitement was building. 


Thanks to all that came and who attended online.

Members of our various community and critical engagement groups along with local residents recently took part in a cross community, cross border best practice visit to project orange Newtowncunningham in Donegal and then to the Rath Mor Centre in the Creggan area of Derry / Londonderry.

A very insightful day with good connections and networks made and plenty of learnings to be taken away for our very own impending shared space centre.

BMSSP recently held their planning day with an aim to give everyone an overview of where the project currently sits and also forward plan for the new shared space building. 
The meeting was very well attended and and all those in attendance made very worthwhile contributions.

The first group of our Digi Champions met up for a mop up session of the programme and to plan how we roll this very successful programme out further into their communities.


Without doubt the highlight of the day was seeing our first group of participants receiving their well earned "Digi - Champions certificates" 


Phil from Gort na Mona men's shed presented our trainer Julie with a hand made pen directly from the men's shed, what a lovely gesture.


Well done all, great to see people in the community leading and helping other people in the community! 

Our 2nd Digi - Champions programme kicked of with a full capacity on Monday 16th May the buzz in the room was nothing short of amazing and to think this was lead by our previous group of Digi - Champions was superb. 


To see the knowledge and confidence in the room was a joy and our new participants were put at ease and learning in a comfortable enviroment.


Fantastic !!!

BMSSP Being Used as a Model of Good Practice

Fantastic that the work of our project is being recognised across the country and beyond.

Today we were visited by various organisations from Derry / Londonderry who were interested in our story. Our visitors were intrigued by our work and wanted to visit us as a model of best practice.

Great discussion and interesting stories

Fantastic that the work of our project is being recognised across the country and beyond.

Today we were visited by various organisations from Derry / Londonderry who were interested in our story. Our visitors were intrigued by our work and wanted to visit us as a model of best practice.

Great discussion and interesting stories

Fantastic open discussion held around Brexit and protocol great to have so many from all communities in attendance. 

Special thanks and great to hear some facts and views from Pete Shirlow and Amanda Ferguson.

Digital Champions help communities get connected

A ground-breaking cross-community project in West Belfast aims to tackle a massive digital skills gap by training grassroots Digital Champions to go out into their areas and help others learn to use the internet and get better connected.

Digital Champions project

The Digital Champions project, being run at Innovation Factory, is training 20 people from a variety of community groups with the aim of creating self-sustaining hubs where local residents can get help and learn how to get online.


“In today’s world, if you can’t access the internet, you’re being left behind. The ability to use digital technology is increasingly fundamental to our capacity to function, whether it’s applying for a job, connecting with family, accessing important services or simply finding information. As adults there are huge barriers to learning that we are trying to address through this project,” explained Julie McGrath from Digi Skills, who delivers the workshops.


The 10-week project is a partnership between Innovation Factory, Digi Skills, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Black Mountain Shared Space.


Shane Smith, IF Engagement manager, explained: “We work closely with the local community and saw an acute digital skills gap impacting people in this area. We knew that within Innovation Factory we have people who could help deliver digital training that can be rolled out to a wider audience. Once you train one person well, they can then go out and spread this knowledge.”


Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.


Black Mountain Shared Space identified the groups working in the West Belfast area that would benefit from this project, which is funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Stephen Gamble from the Housing Executive said: “We are very happy to support this project through our community involvement grants programme. We can all see the need for digital skills has never been greater in most areas of everyday life.


“Blackmountain Shared Space continue to deliver fantastic programmes and it is our hope the digital champions in this course will use the skills they have learnt, and share their skills with friends, family and the wider community in West Belfast.”


Ciaran Boyd from Black Mountain Shared Space, which is based at Innovation Factory, explained: “This is a truly ground-breaking project that is bringing together both sides of the community in a neutral venue like Innovation Factory with the common purpose of helping others. The Digital Champions are working together to learn but they are also coming up with new ideas that have the potential to help hundreds of other people. What better community plan than a shared space full of cross community activity and local volunteers focusing on reducing the digital divide and building positive



He added that the relaxed hands-on format of the course has led to so many enquiries from others that there’s now a waiting list for a second course.


One of the participants, Anto Harte from the Gortnamona Men’s Shed, explained that before the Digital Champions project he had few digital skills but that the training is so well focused that he has really developed his skills.


“It’s brilliant because you aren’t bombarded. They teach you exactly what you need to do. I didn’t have any confidence at the start but I’ve already been able to order materials for the Men’s Shed online and plan to bring training in for our members,” he said.


And Hugh McIlveen from Highspring Residents Group said that many people over 50 can feel left behind as they wouldn’t have had any digital training in school.


“This training is exactly what we needed. Now we can help people to get online and do things like fill in forms or apply for jobs,” he said.


There are also plans for digital drop-in centres and the first will go ahead this month in Highfield Community Centre and Newhill Community Group with more to come.


Black Mountain Shared Space is in the process of developing a new cross community building on a peaceline site on the Ballygomartin Road that will act as a welcoming, safe and accessible state-of-the art hub in which it will deliver services such as digital training and access.

Digital Champions


Notice of Public Consultation 

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