The Caribbean and African Diaspora is becoming one of the largest, most diverse and fastest-growing ethnic minority communities in Northern Ireland. Last week, a Caribbean and African Diaspora Strategic Plan for 2013-2018 (ACSONI) was launched at Stormont Parliament by St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Consul General to Northern Ireland & Chairperson (Ag.) of the Registered Charity African Caribbean Community Support Organisation of Northern Ireland, Dr Christopher Stange. The launching of the initiative also coincided with SVG’s Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (RIDU) strategy.
The strategy focuses on eight specific objectives to increase Caribbean and African integration, Community Development, Cohesion, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, with a primary focus on furthering engagement with all stakeholders and communities in Northern Ireland. The event was attended and supported by leaders of the various national Caribbean and African Associations as well as key stakeholders and statutory bodies in Northern Ireland.
“Since its formation in 2003 ACSONI has grown in size, stature and regard until it has become a key member of the minority ethnic community here,” Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said. “As it has grown so has the breadth and scale of its services offered and ambitions.”
“I’m impressed with the eight strategic aims you have set out, because they promote a fair and equal society which embraces and celebrates Northern Ireland’s increasingly inter-cultural identity in the spirit of mutual respect and growth.” Bell added.
Starting a new life in a new country “can be a very daunting and challenging experience,” McCann said, adding: “People can feel isolated, alienated and vulnerable.”
“ACSONI do so much to address this and play an increasingly important role in helping to inspire, challenge, help and advocate for their membership. For 10 years, ACSONI has represented the pride, drive and talent of the African Caribbean people here and I am confident this strategy will continue that work for the next five years and beyond,” McCannn added.
Dr. Stange said ACSONI is “committed to social cohesion and integration, because of the enrichment it provides. An inclusive, integrated, equal and shared society, which is at peace with itself, is what we are determined to achieve.
“We are working for a shared brighter future no matter of race, background or creed, that every citizen has equal opportunity and full participation in civic life,” Stange added.
The event concluded with a live musical performance from ACSONI’s “Community Got Talent” representatives, followed by a luncheon and Fairtrade refreshments, along with Jonathan Bell, MLA and Jennifer McCann, MLA – junior ministers at the office of the first minister and deputy first minister.