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Ritchie welcomes announcement of £1million research award for the rejuvenation of Connswater

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie MLA today welcomed the announcement of a £1million research award to evaluate the positive effects of the Connswater Community Greenway (CCG) on local people.

CCG is an environmental project, delivering a linear park connecting existing green and open spaces along the banks of the Connswater. The research award has been granted to Professor Kee at the UK Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI) Centre at Queen’s University.

Margaret Ritchie said: "I welcome that Professor Kee has won this prestigious award. This funding will enable an important five year study to be undertaken by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, which, significantly, will be done in consultation with the local community. It will allow the benefits of improvements to physical activity, health and wellbeing of individuals living beside Connswater Community Greenway to be fully measured.

"Over £3million from my department’s Neighbourhood Renewal Investment fund has already been earmarked to help deliver the CCG Environmental Improvement Scheme. Today’s announcement will greatly enhance this overall project for the benefit of everyone in this area."

The PARC study is a five year project which has been funded by the Medical Research Council National Prevention Research Initiative.

Note to editors:

1. The Connswater Community Greenway is an environmental project, sponsored by the East Belfast partnership, delivering a linear park connecting existing green and open spaces along the banks of the Connswater, Loop and Knock Rivers from the Castlereagh Hills, through the centre of East Belfast, to Victoria Park in the Belfast Harbour Estate. The total project cost is £31.4million with funding contributions from Big Lottery (£23.5million), Belfast City Council (£4.7million) and DSD (£3.2million).

2. The PARC study is a five year project which has been funded by the Medical Research Council National Prevention Research Initiative. This is a national initiative made up of government departments, research councils and major medical charities, working together to encourage and support research into chronic disease prevention. Its core aim is to develop and implement successful, cost-effective interventions that reduce people’s risk of developing major diseases by influencing their health behaviours. Working with local community and statutory groups, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have planned an evaluation of the effects of these changes on physical activity, health and wellbeing in individuals living near to the Greenway.

3. The Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy 'People and Place,' which was published in June 2003, sets out government’s proposals for closing the gap between the quality of life for people in the most deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of society.

The Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy has four interlinking strategic objectives:

  • Community Renewal – to develop confident communities that are able and committed to improving the quality of life in their areas.
  • Economic Renewal – to develop economic activity in the most deprived neighbourhoods and connect them to the wider urban economy.
  • Social Renewal – to improve social conditions for the people who live in the most deprived neighbourhoods through better co-ordinated public services and the creation of safer environments.

Physical Renewal – to help create attractive, safe and sustainable environments in the most deprived neighbourhoods

4. News Media enquiries to DSD Information Office on 028 9082 9078 or 07970 976 894. Out of office please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.