East Belfast

Orangefield Mural

Adam Woods (aka Woodzy) was a prominent and popular member of the East Belfast and Orangefield communities and has been involved with projects and programmes with organisations in East, Including the Hotbox Music Project, 5th Element Music Charity (https://www.the5thelement.org.uk/) and East Belfast Alternatives. Adam was also instrumental in discussions with prominent community and government officials, including the NI Executive Office and Dept. for Communities stating the importance of community support for young people facing personal, social and emotional difficulties. 

In early 2022 Adam sadly lost his life to ongoing battles with mental health and substance misuse.  This prompted a number of ‘tributes’ being sprayed on the walls in orange field park, which were classed as vandalism and ASB. 

In the aftermath of the funeral and through the East Belfast Street Team, East Belfast Alternatives were able to discuss with the group the possibility of producing something that would be a more fitting tribute, which in turn is a diversionary measure.  The involvement of the group gives them a sense of ownership of the pavilion which reduces the likelihood of any further graffiti or damage to the building, which has been a case in the past. 

Throughout this process the CiT funded SAFE project has allowed East Belfast Alternatives workers to work alongside the group at Orangefield for 18 months. The work started in year one and has continued into year two.

This group was already a friendship group, and users of Orangefield park, but they were brought together by the loss of Adam. Initially the group wanted to promote positive mental health through an art piece on the bowling pavilion at Orangefield Park in memory of their friend, but through the excellent relational work of the staff this turned into an even more meaningful project for the group.

During the course of the project, the group have undertaken personal development workshops in drug and alcohol consumption, relationships and sexual education and have become mental health champions through EBCDA. The group have also worked on emotions and grief and have taken part in art therapy and handling strong emotions training.

One of the aims of the group was to create an art piece that commemorated their friend, but also projected a positive mental health message. This aim opened up the group to community engagement consultations with various sections of the community. Through a restorative process of building relationships and maintaining community, this group engaged, MLA’s and councillors from DUP, The Green Party SDLP and Alliance, residents, community workers, PTA members, teachers and other statutory services, for the purpose of including them in the design of the art piece. These connections inevitably led to so much more as stories were shared and understanding was built between the groups and different sections of the community. 

This was a really significant two-month process building trust, respect and understanding for one another as well as support for the project and the group opening up opportunity for others to add to the art piece.

During all of this work the group were also designing the art piece with a local artist Ray from FGB. The group gave their suggestions and Ray was able to design the groups ideas. Eventually this was agreed and despite some unexpected barriers along the way, the art piece was officially unveiled on 27th April.This launch event was attended by around 200 people, including the MLA’s and councillors who had been involved in the consultation. CiT representatives were also in attendance along with community partners and providers.This was an excellent evening and a real celebration of the group and tribute to Adam. This event was covered by the BBC’s Kevin Sharkey and made the evening news.

This project shows me two things, if this group hadn’t been reached out to, I think we could have been looking at regular community safety issues in Orangefield park and difficult relationships between the group and other park users or residents. Finally, it shows me that when something significant happens to someone we must go with the flow of their needs, and SAFE has been able to do what this group has needed.

In October 2023 the group have transitioned into the CiT STARS project as they continue their journey through relevant training including youth work and restorative training. They have started their level 2 OCN in youth work with the hope of providing youth provision out of the Organgefield Pavilion in the future.





East Belfast Alternatives

Isthmus House, Isthmus Street Belfast

028 9045 6766