Celebrating Culture Safely is the key message being highlighted in a borough-wide social media initiative in the run up to the bonfire season.
The initiative, led by Mid & East Antrim Council and piloted last year, is a result of the local authority working with community leaders and statutory partners to identify safety issues that may face communities when building or attending bonfires. One of the main aims is to strengthen partnerships between local community leaders and voluntary sectors to encourage safe, responsible and family friendly cultural celebrations.
The Cultural Celebration Working Group behind the messaging is made up of a number of representatives from Council and various bodies including PSNI, NIFRS, NI Housing Executive, and NIE Networks. This innovative approach developed by the Cultural Celebrations Working Group and supported by local community partners, has been undertaken to encourage, positive cultural celebrations in the borough that are carried out in a responsible manner and as positive expression of culture based on mutual respect.
Members of the Cultural Celebrations Working Group, alongside its community partners throughout Mid and East Antrim, said: “This initiative is aimed at those engaged in cultural celebrations and the wider public. We want to promote family friendly activities as well as raise awareness of the importance of safety during cultural celebration events. The aim of the ‘Celebrating Culture Safely’ social media campaign also links closely to the overarching good relations strategy to build a united community, which is strengthened by its diversity and where cultural expression is celebrated where everyone can live, learn, work and socialise together. We would encourage those involved in these events, and the wider public, to report any instances where potentially hazardous materials are found at sites by contacting your local Council offices. Ballymena on 028 2563 3123, Carrickfergus on 028 9335 8346 and Larne on 028 2826 2359.”
Four key safety messages being promoted as part of the campaign are: Safe Site – recognising that bonfires must be sited well away from houses, garages, sheds, overhead cables and electricity substations; Safe Structure – ensuring that when building bonfires, huts and dens are not built within them, and to take measures to prevent collapse of the structure; Safe Environment – reminding that toxic materials such as tyres or foam filled furniture are not to be burned; and, Safe Community - highlighting the importance of not using flammable liquids to light bonfires. The online posters will be carried across social media platforms using the hashtag #celebratingculturesafely.