Twelve young people from North Belfast recently embarked on trips to London, Belgium and France to increase their knowledge of the Great War to mark the centenary. The group completed the National Memory - Local Stories, a nation-wide project led by the National Portrait Gallery, in partnership with the Ulster Museum, to help young people uncover personal connections with the First World War. The group travelled to London in March to attend the launch of the digital exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery. Visit www.npg.org.uk/nationalmemory to view the exhibition.
New Lodge Arts secured additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Project and worked in partnership with the New Lodge Youth Centre and Glenravel History Project to bring the young people to Belgium & France to explore the local and international contexts within which the war was fought, how it affected their local area and the realities of life for those involved in the war.
During their trip, the young people visited Battlefields, War Memorials, Graveyards, Museums and Monuments gaining and insight into the devastation and destruction of the War which resulted in the death of over 16 million people and left 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.
Anne Delaney, Arts Programme & Operations Manager at New Lodge Arts, says: ‘We are delighted to receive financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this project. The young people have gained an understanding of the Great War and benefited greatly from the experience of visiting battlefields, graveyards and memorials. We hope that this project goes onto inspire others in developing their own response to historical anniversaries.’
One participant from North Belfast described the project as "Overall an outstanding experience, I have been given the opportunity to be shown a range of new facts that I had never came across in my experience with the topic of history, generally a heartfelt trip seeing how many soldiers risked their lives and fought for their country, such an amazing experience that I am glad I was able to be a part of.’
The group are currently working on a piece of theatre exploring stories of real people involved in the War which will be performed in June 2014. A photographic exhibition and new mural will also be created and displayed in the New Lodge.