16th - 17th JUNE 2016
Join the Conversation as the
Xchange Summer School comes to Belfast
Date: Thursday 16 and Friday 17 June 2016
Venue: LIFE Church Belfast; 11a Bruce St; Belfast; BT2 7JD
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell is one of the speakers confirmed for this
year’s Xchange Summer School which promises to be one of the most
diverse and challenging yet.
Now in its third year the school has developed an international reputation for
generating new thinking and challenging established ideas: literally changing
This year the event will take place in Belfast at the Life Centre, Bruce Street
on June 16 and 17.
The four main conversations are:
A City of 7
Tel: 028 90 245 356
PROGRAMME THURSDAY 16 JUNE
Time Event Venue
09:30 Registration Life Centre
Tea & coffee
10:00 Opening Address Lauri McCusker, Xchange Member Life Centre
10:05 In Conversation with a political leader about Life Centre
changing the conversation.
10:30 Changing the Conversation: Participative Democracy Life Centre
Voting is democracy in action, yet a significant
proportion of citizens are choosing not to vote.
Two panels will consider the reasons why and what
needs to change (if anything).
Is choosing not to vote a valid democratic act?
Why do so few citizens participate in our democracy?
What do Politicians need to do in order to engage
with the disillusioned and disengaged citizen?
Do we fully understand the scale of the political
apathy in NI?
Would reducing the voting age to 16 help/make any
Why do we continually engage in behaviours in the
media which opinion polls tell us they dislike?
What is the role of the media and Third Sector leaders
in helping to address political disengagement?
Daithi McKay, Sinn Fein
Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist
Steven Agnew / Claire Bailey, Green Party
Claire Hanna, SDLP
Peter Tatchell, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Mick Fealty, Slugger O’Toole
Karen Hall, Xchange Member
PROGRAMME THURSDAY 16 JUNE
Time Event Venue
12:00 Brown bag lunch - Fringe session: Life Centre
Making it Happen - Changing the Way we Engage
This fringe event will raise awareness of the
introduction of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s
electronic petitions scheme, which will be launched
in Autumn 2016, explaining its potential impact and
value for the voluntary, community and social
enterprise sector. Through a discussion on the
development of the scheme to date, it will encourage
attendees to capitalise on the opportunity to influence
the Assembly in this way, aiming to inspire the
audience to promote this scheme amongst their
communities of interest and place.
Mairaid McMahon, Xchange Member
Zero Suicide – How?
2014, WHO declared a 10% reduction goal for global
suicides by 2020. How? Contact believe every suicide
is preventable until the last moment of life. Interested?
Join us for more on the ambitious Zero Suicide campaign.
Fergus Cumiskey, Contact NI
PROGRAMME THURSDAY 16 JUNE
Time Event Venue
13:00 Changing the Conversation: Keep the Faith? Life Centre
What is the role of religion in society today?
How do we define ‘religion’ today in NI?
This conversation will explore how people’s beliefs
can affect society and whether this has a positive or
Across the world religion provides strength and offers
hope. Religious devotion and commitment is
fundamental to a great number of people. Nevertheless,
the hypocrisy presented in some of the beliefs which
have rocked the foundations of religious institutions and
the lack of any concrete evidence can appear naïve,
ignorant and puzzling to others.
There has been much debate in NI about the influence of
religion on public policy, ie Equal Marriage, Abortion and
the challenge to evolutionary theory.
Religion is embedded in our political history. Protestantism
tends to be equated with Britishness and Catholicism with
Irishness which is evidenced by voting behaviour.
At the same time demographics show a slow march to a
more secular society, even if few politicians are as yet
prepared to admit they are non-religious. Is this an
entirely good thing?
Do we need a spiritual dimension to our personal lives and
our society? If you don’t have faith what are we missing?
Do Human Rights and religion need each other? Is religion
a problem or solution for Human Rights Activists?
Do we need to focus our attention beyond Christianity
and examine the role and influence of other faiths in NI?
Les Allamby, Human Rights Commission
Pádriag Ó Tuama, Corrymeela
Garret O Fachtna, Belfast Zen Centre
Rev Cheryl Meban, Ulster University
Michele Marken, OBE
PROGRAMME THURSDAY 16 JUNE
Time Event Venue
14:30 Tea and Coffee break Life Centre
15:00 Changing the Conversation : Societal Wellbeing Life Centre
Societal wellbeing is defined as “a sense of involvement
with other people and with our communities. Many
researchers believe that wellbeing is not just about
being happy or content, but also about being actively
engaged with life and with other people.” This
conversation will ask is society doing enough to
encourage societal wellbeing.
Robert Egger, LA Kitchen
Fergus Cumiskey, Contact NI
Caitriona Cassidy – “A Lived Experience”
16:30 Free time Belfast
19:00 Social Event Oh Yeah Centre
Join us in the Oh Yeah Centre to enjoy some music
by some of the Xchange grantees, a pub quiz , a fork
buffet and a chance to reflect on the days
conversations in a relaxed environment.
PROGRAMME FRIDAY 17 JUNE
Time Event Venue
10:30 Meeting with Coffee and Tea TBC
11:00 Walking Tour of Belfast with Daniel Jewsbury.
The Talking Heads of Belfast
Have you ever seen the Chinaman of Marlborough Street?
Or the cherubs making ropes next to City Hall? Do you
know how many seahorses there are in Belfast? In this
architectural expedition with a difference, Daniel
Jewsbury presents some of the sculpted heads on
Belfast’s historic buildings and listens for the story they
tell us about our city. He’ll talk about the Fitzpatrick
Brothers who were amongst Victorian Belfast’s finest
artists and whose work is still on view all around the city.
Their story tells us about power, money and Belfast’s first
property boom - themes which are still relevant today.
PROGRAMME FRIDAY 17 JUNE
Time Event Venue
12:30 Changing the Conversation: A City of 7 Quarters? Sunflower Bar
This final conversation will be held in the Sunflower Bar
which has just been saved from the threat of being
demolished in light of new plans for the city.
The conversation will consider the values and issues in
the planning and design of Belfast. Specifically:
The impact of modernity on Belfast’s landscape &
The history of the city and how it has influenced its
design and shape.
There is a pronounced need to understand what makes
Belfast special, how to capture its essence to nurture it
to thrive for future generations to enjoy.
John Betjeman was quoted as saying that Belfast was
the most intact Victorian city in the British Isles.
Yet the landscape has been heavily influenced by a
violent and traumatic past. Paramilitary murals and
caged buildings serve as a reminder of a troubled past.
What should we keep and what needs to go?
What role does planning and design have to play in
‘remembering’ the conflict?
What stories are included or excluded?
How does the depiction of the past relate to the
present built environment?
What impact will modernity have on the Belfast
Is our built environment accessible to all?
Lunch is included.
David Gavaghan, Aurora Prime Real Estate
Rita Harkin, Heritage Advisor
Mark Hackett, City Reparo
Daniel Jewsbury, Writer, Curator and Editor
Orla McCann, Disability Action
Dermot O’Kane, Belfast City Council
14:00 Close 07
Les Allamby is the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human
Rights Commission. He was formerly the director of Law Centre
(NI). He is a solicitor who has taken cases through to the European
Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights and written
extensively on social policy and justice issues. He was a legal services
commissioner from 2003-2011, vice chair of the Social Security
Advisory Committee form 2004-2013 and the inaugural chair of the
Social Security Standards Committee (1999-2004).
He has also been an election monitor and supervisor for the OSCE/IOM in Bosnia
1996, 1997 and 1998, Pakistan in “002 and Georgia in 2008 and 2012. He has also
worked on a voluntary basis in South Africa for Lawyers for Human Rights (1993)
and the National Addiction Research Centre (1991).
Caitriona Cassidy - A Lived Experience:
I am a service user of Contact NI and have lived with mental health
difficulties for the last nineteen years. While I have had long periods
of stability, in times of crisis I also made serious suicide attempts,
which saw me hospitalised for days and self-harm become a norm.
Lifeline, Northern Ireland’s 24/7 crisis telephone helpline saved my life
many times. This was my first experience of an organisation where
each telephone counsellor offered a consistent, compassionate and caring response.
My dignity always respected.
Lifeline encouraged the integration of support with friends. I always felt in charge of
my own care while involved with Lifeline, which had a powerful stabilising effect. The
chaos that was my life began to subside as I had professionals who strongly believed
in my recovery even when I doubted it.
Service User Advocate
When I was no longer in crisis I was successful in becoming a Service User Advocate
(SUA) for Contact, the Lifeline provider. I was supported to use my personal
experiences of Lifeline to improve the service for current and future users. This
helped my recovery enormously as my health was promoted and encouraged
through my ability to help others. I receive therapeutic support and training so that I
can meet this challenging new role. I owe my life to lifeline.
Fergus Cumiskey, Managing Director, Contact
Fergus brings over thirty years innovation and leadership to his role
as Managing Director with Contact, a leading NI crisis counselling
charity. Fergus and the Contact leadership team created the inaugural
NI Department of Education funded independent schools counselling
initiative for all NI post-primary school students (2006-09).
As Contact Clinical Director, he co-led the pilot 24/7 crisis helpline
for North and West Belfast (2006-08) which evolved as Lifeline 0808 808 8000
Northern Ireland’s crisis response suicide prevention helpline provided by Contact
under license from the Public Health Agency (2008-16). Fergus chaired the NI Trauma
Recovery Network (2004-2012). He completed 4 years Gestalt Psychotherapy training
GTS (1994) and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy, London
Gestalt Institute (2004). In 2013 he completed the MSc in Executive Leadership
with the University of Ulster/Irish Times Training. Since 2010, Contact provide
annual International Suicide Prevention-What Works? conferences - securing lead
international influencers, promoting the expert voice of lived experience.
Fergus passionately believes that every suicide is preventable - therefore we in health
care are responsible to provide services that keep people safe from suicide.
Robert Egger Bio - Founder/President L.A. Kitchen
Robert is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen (LAK), which
recovers fresh fruits and vegetables to fuel a culinary arts job training
program for men and women coming out of foster care and older
men and women returning from incarceration. LAK also operates
Strong Food, a social enterprise that employs graduates and earns
revenue via senior meal contracts.
Robert pioneered this model during his 24-year tenure as the President of the DC
Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen.” Since opening in 1989, the
Kitchen (which is a $11 million a year, self-sustaining, social enterprise) has produced
over 30 million meals and helped 1,000 men and women gain full time employment.
Robert serves on the Board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, Phoenix Foods
USA, the Philanthropic Collaborative, #HashTag Lunch Bag and Chef Jose Andres’
World Central Kitchen. He also serves on the Advisory Board for numerous social
enterprise and food justice organizations, including Food Shift and The Food
Robert was included in the NonProfit Times “50 Most Powerful and Influential”
nonprofit leaders from 2006-2009. He was the recipient of the Restaurant
Association of Metropolitan Washington’s “Lifetime Achievement” award and the
James Beard Foundation “Humanitarian of the Year” award. He is also a 15 gallon
blood donor to the American Red Cross.
David established last year Aurora Prime Real Estate to focus on a
new dawn emerging in Belfast and is seeking to raise £50m locally
and internationally to invest in Grade A office space in Belfast.
David is the Chair of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI),
Northern Ireland, and Vice Chair of the Washington Ireland Program.
He is a Fellow of both the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institution
of Civil Engineers.
David has a degree from Trinity College, Dublin in Economics and Social Studies and
had his secondary education at Blackrock College, Dublin. David is married to Helen
O’Malley and together they have 8 children (four boys, four girls) ranging in ages
from 24 to 3 years old! He lives in Killinchy, Co Down and keeps fit by running, doing
the occasional half-marathon when not chasing kids!
Mark Hackett an architect and director in City Reparo, a
multidisciplinary organisation with the skills to implement city
improvement and transformation. He was previously a founding
director of the urban group Forum for Alternative Belfast, a think tank
working with communities and government to advocate for better
urban design solutions for the city.
Mark also runs his own practice in architecture where he specialises in public
buildings and programmes.
Claire became MLA for South Belfast in July 2015, having previously
been elected as Councillor for the Balmoral area in 2011 and 2014.
An SDLP member and campaigner for over ten years, Claire
previously worked in the field of international development – most
recently in a policy and education role having served in countries
including Bangladesh, Haiti and Zambia.
Claire is the SDLP Finance Spokesperson. She sits on the
Environment and Public Accounts committees in the Northern Ireland Assembly. She
chairs the All Party Group on International Development and the All Party Group
on The Arts and Creativity. During her time as Chair of Belfast City Council’s Town
Planning Committee, Claire pushed for sensitive development to protect the unique
character of South Belfast, as well as pursuing major upgrades in infrastructure to
prevent flooding in Finaghy and Upper Malone.
Claire represented the SDLP on the Historic Centenaries and Diversity Committee
in Council, tackling politically sensitive issues like flags, language policy and
commemorations, she also served on the board of Libraries NI and the Lyric
Theatres Education Advisory Panel.
Born in the Connemara Gaeltacht, Claire has lived in South Belfast since the age of 3.
She went to school at St Bride’s Primary and Rathmore Grammar and has recently
completed a Masters in Law at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Claire is married to Donal and they have two young daughters.
Rita Harkin is an independent built heritage adviser. She has an MA
in Town Planning from Edinburgh College of Art and a Postgraduate
Diploma in Historic Building Conservation.
She is currently co-ordinating ‘Red Brick Belfast’, a traditional skills,
arts and heritage project based in the Village area of south Belfast,
funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, on behalf of the Community
Rita fronted the planning, campaigning, education and skills training programmes for
the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society from 2000 to 2013. Prior to that role she
was employed as Heritage Officer for Belfast City Council; researcher with Rachel
Bevan Architects; and NI Development Officer for the Ecology Building Society.
She is the Northern Ireland Trustee of the UK-wide Architectural Heritage Fund,
which helps voluntary and community groups to repair and regenerate historic
buildings. She also serves on the board of Hearth, a housing association and building
preservation trust, and the Irish Landmark Trust, which saves and restores unusual
historic buildings to provide holiday accommodation
Dr. Daniel Jewesbury was born in London in 1972 and studied Fine
Art at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin, subsequently
completing a PhD in the Media Studies department of the University
of Ulster in 2001.
He is an artist, writer, curator and editor. Daniel lectures in Film
Studies at the University of Ulster, and is an active and widely
published researcher, with particular interests in urban regeneration,
redevelopment and the public, and in visual and material culture. Daniel is the
curator of the 2016 TULCA Festival of Visual Art in Galway, on the theme of ‘The
Orla McCann is Assistant Director – Access, Planning and Transport
with Disability Action.
Orla has 20 years professional experience in the field of Design
for All and a working knowledge of all areas of accessible design
and including domestic and public buildings, heritage buildings,
public realm and landscape design. She is experienced in Building
Regulations, British Standards, Planning Policy, Transport Policy, Housing Policy and
Equality and Disability Discrimination legislation.
Orla is a member of the BSI subgroup responsible for BS8300 and a former member
of NIBRAC; she sat on the Working Group established to write the Code of Practice
for the 2004 provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act and the Built Environment
Advisory Forum established to advise on the impact of the DDA. Orla sits on the MAG
(Architecture) Strategic Design Group and is an assessor on the Civic Trust Awards.
Orla holds postgraduate qualifications in Town and Country Planning, Landscape
Architecture, and Health and Safety.
Having worked in the public, private, voluntary, community and social
enterprise sectors, Mairaid’s interest in democratic participation is
based on her 360 degree perspective on political engagement in
As a former Private Secretary to two government Ministers, one at
Westminster and one at Stormont, she has gained an insight into the operations
of political institutions and parties, which informed her development of the Make It
Working in public affairs and policy development roles over recent years provided
her with an opportunity to view things from an alternative angle, as the ‘poacher
turned gamekeeper’ in her lobbying and advocacy roles.
Rev Cheryl Meban
Cheryl studied Law at QUB, then lived in France for five years,
and as an act of faith, returned to Ireland to train as a minister of
the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Coming from a conservative
evangelical background, Cheryl’s love for the Bible and for Jesus
Christ is incrementally transforming her from reinforcing Victorian
cultural values to challenging oppression and all sorts of underappreciation
of humans and of all the mysteries of the universe.
Rev Meban serves as chaplain at Ulster University’s Belfast and Jordanstown
campuses, and is committed to global and local expressions of faith, justice, healing,
humanity and economics. She has a husband, a daughter and a dog… in that
Mike Nesbitt was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the
first time in May 2011, representing Strangford constituency. Following
the shock resignation of then Party Leader, Tom Elliott, Mike became
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party in March 2012 with a landslide
80% of the vote of the party membership.
Under his watch, the Party has enjoyed an electoral revival, retaining
its seat in the European Parliament, securing double-digit percentage growth in the
number of its local government councillors, and in 2015 returning to the House of
Commons at Westminster, with the election of two Members of Parliament.
Educated in Belfast and Cambridge University, Mike’s varied career has seen him
gain experience at a senior level in both the private and public sectors:
Sports reporter with BBC Northern Ireland;
News and current affairs anchor with BBC Northern Ireland;
CEO, Anderson-Kenny communications;
Anchor, Ulster Television news and current affairs output;
Commissioner, Commission for Victims and Survivors of the Troubles.
Mike currently chairs Stormont’s Committee of the Office of First Minister and
deputy first Minister.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Pádraig Ó Tuama was appointed as the leader of the Corrymeela
Community in 2014. He brings two decades of practice as a
theologian and conflict mediator to his role, as well as interests in
language and poetry.
Ó Tuama’s previous work saw him bring diverse groups of people
together across conflicted divides. His local work involved developing
community and school-based curricula exploring: Groupwork, Narrative Practice,
Interfaith dialogue, Arts and Conflict, and Reconciliation.
His international research involved interventions on the justification of the death
penalty for LGBT people in Uganda. Ó Tuama’s poetry has been used in the context
of politics too, most recently with a handwritten version of the poem “Shaking
Hands” being given to the retiring First Minister of Northern Ireland.
Garret has been a practicing Buddhist in the Soto Zen tradition for
around twenty-five years. He was lay-ordained in 2006 by Ryushin
Paul Haller of San Francisco Zen Centre and currently practices with
Belfast Zen in East Belfast.
After a spectacularly unsuccessful music career and years of
moderate achievement as a community worker, he now works as a
Trade Union Coordinator in Belfast City Council where he coordinates, facilitates and
develops the role of the Council’s four sovereign trade unions.
Garret is a committed social activist and proponent of engaged Buddhism as a
vehicle for social change.
He is a musician and poet and has recently finished his first novel. An enthusiastic
cyclist for many years, he is also a member of the Green Party and a long-suffering
supporter of Oxford United.
Peter Tatchell has campaigned since 1967 on issues of human rights,
democracy, LGBT freedom and global justice.
From the 1970s, he proposed a comprehensive Equal Rights Act to
ensure equal treatment for everyone. This proposal was eventually
enshrined in the Equality Act 2010.
In 1999, in London, he ambushed the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe,
attempting a citizen’s arrest on charges of torture. A repeat attempt in Brussels in
2001 resulted in him being beaten unconscious by Mugabe’s bodyguards.
He coordinated the Equal Love campaign from 2010, which pioneered same-sex
He is Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation
LIFE Church Belfast, 11a Bruce St, Belfast, BT2 7JD
The Life Centre is on Bruce Street in Belfast, beside Creations. There are plenty
of car parks opposite and nearby. It is also in walking distance to Europa bus
station and Great Victoria Street Train station.
OH YEAH CENTRE
15-21 Gordon St, Belfast BT1 2LG
The Oh Yeah Centre is based in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast. There is
parking available on Dunbar Street and the surrounding streets have on street
parking. St Anne’s Square car park is also within walking distance. Buses are
available from the Albert Clock close by and Belfast Central train station is
around a 10-15 minute walk.
Union St, Belfast, County Antrim BT1 2JG
The Sunflower Bar is based on Union Street a short walk from the Cathedral
Quarter. The nearest multi-storey car park is situated at Castle Court a short
walk away. There is limited paid parking with time restrictions in the immediate
Tel: 028 90 245 356