Embracing a shared community

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A Coleraine estate has signed up to the Housing Executive’s Shared Community Programme in a bid to ensure their area is a safe and welcoming place for everyone.

Residents from Killowen and the Heights came together on Thursday night to join the Programme.

The three year Housing Executive led project develops areas where people choose to live with others regardless of their religion or race in a neighbourhood that is safe and welcoming to all and threatening to no-one.

As part of the programme, a Shared Community survey was undertaken by the Housing Executive’s Research Unit. There are approximately 550 properties on the estate, 56 per cent of which are Housing Executive with 35 per cent owner occupied and six per cent privately rented.

Of those surveyed more than half, (53%), were either very satisfied or satisfied with Killowen and the Heights as a place to live.

In terms of community relations, more than four-fifths (81%) considered themselves to be a part of the community with 66 per cent saying they felt the area was a place where neighbours looked out for each other. However, smaller proportions of respondents felt that neighbours looked out for each other regardless of religious background (52%) or ethnic background (33%).

Nonetheless, looking towards future good relations, 75 per cent said they would like to see more neighbourliness and 66 per cent would consider participating in shared events and projects open to all residents. Furthermore, 25 per cent would consider joining a community association.

Other findings included the fact that 91 per cent of people felt safe walking around the area during the day. In contrast 42 per cent felt a bit or very unsafe after dark. The most common reason among residents for feeling unsafe was due to people drinking on the streets and residents said they would feel safer if there were more police patrols. Main concerns within the estate were the using or dealing of drugs (64%), underage drinking (58%), graffiti (58%) and attacks on young people (58%). More than half (55%) were also concerned about damage or vandalism to property.

Other concerns included displays of flags and emblems, discrimination against minority ethnic residents and joy-riding.