East Belfast has always had a story to tell! From the dawn of the last century when East Belfast became renowned globally for rope manufacturing, shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing, its linen mills and the creation of air-conditioning, to more recent times when fast forward to 2020 and its people were forced to respond to a pandemic, the like of which nobody could have imagined in our lifetime.
Eastside Awards in association with George Best Belfast City Airport has built a reputation for recognising all that is good about East Belfast and this year, more than any other, the organisers want to hear uplifting stories of how the community has pulled together and how businesses have innovated, pivoted and diversified to survive.
Eastside Awards needs to hear from you to create ‘East Belfast – Our Story 2020’.
‘East Belfast – Our Story 2020’ will showcase contributions made to the economic, social and community development of the area. Turning the spotlight on those who have made a real difference inspiring pride, enriching lives and galvanising the creation of a positive future for the people of East Belfast. A film of stories recounting how the people of East Belfast have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘East Belfast – Our Story 2020’ will be broadcast at a premiere in January (subject to current government guidelines).
Jonathan McAlpin, Chair of the Eastside Awards Committee, said: “There are a lot of people in East Belfast who need to be congratulated and commended for playing their part during one of the most challenging years of our lifetime. This year’s Eastside Awards is the community’s to own. We want to hear powerful stories from education, sport, the arts, business, health and social care, stories of how children were nurtured during lockdown, extraordinary stories about community spirit, innovative stories about business survival to bring to life ‘East Belfast – Our Story 2020’. I believe this film will in some small way thank those who have helped us through this year and recognise the heroes of 2020, whether they be frontline workers, business owners, NHS staff or members of the general public who have helped lift spirits of their families, friends and neighbours on some of the darkest of days.”
Michelle Hatfield, Corporate Services Director, George Best Belfast City Airport, said: “Community spirit is the lifeblood of East Belfast. Amidst a turbulent and challenging 2020, that has never been more true. Great things are done by a series of small things brought together, and ‘East Belfast – Our Story 2020’ will recognise those who have gone above and beyond for the benefit of the community. Once again Belfast City Airport is a very proud partner of the Eastside Awards as we embark on creating ‘East Belfast – Our Story 2020’ that will serve as a perfect reminder of the power of hope and achievement within our local community.”
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I am delighted to support the launch of the Eastside Awards. I know how hard the local community organisations in the Eastside Urban Village area are working to provide much needed support at this difficult time. So many hardworking individuals and groups have risen to the challenge with creativity, energy and enthusiasm. And I want to commend the responsible way that this has been taken forward, in line with the public health guidelines, to protect the safety and wellbeing of all. These awards are a very welcome opportunity to recognise this vital work.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added: “The Eastside Awards is a fantastic initiative. It brings business and community together to acknowledge the great work that’s being done across East Belfast to build a stronger society. Many opportunities have been created to improve people’s lives, particularly those who are vulnerable, and that really is something to celebrate. I want to congratulate East Belfast Enterprise for their work to deliver this alternative awards event while circumstances prevent us from coming together in person. Well done to everyone involved.”
Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey, said: “2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone so I am delighted to help launch this excellent initiative which will give the people of east Belfast a platform to tell their own personal stories about how they have dealt with the difficulties resulting from Covid-19. Much of my focus since becoming Lord Mayor has inevitably been on supporting people as they live through the pandemic whilst giving recognition to those who have acted selflessly to support others. During the difficult times I have been hugely lifted by the community spirit and incredible resilience shown by people from all walks of life in the city. I therefore want to congratulate the awards organisers on this special initiative which will highlight these individuals. I would also encourage as many people as possible to get involved and send in their stories.”
East Belfast – Our Story 2020 has been made possible by George Best Belfast City Airport, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, East Belfast Enterprise, East Belfast Mission, EastSide Partnership, Fleet Financial, Kainos, Millar McCall Wylie, The Open University, Phoenix Natural Gas, Solv Group, The Urban Villages Initiative, Weresure Insurance Services, Wolseley Plumb and Parts Center and media partner, Belfast Live.
If you would like to share your story about human kindness, how you have coped in 2020, if you know a teacher who has gone the extra mile, if you have an exceptional neighbour, if your community group risked their health to help others during lockdown or you know of a volunteer who should be recognised, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for further information. Closing date for story submissions is 5.00pm on Friday 11 December.