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

the conversation.

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:

1 2



Keep the


3 4



A City of 7


Rachel Cooley


Tel: 028 90 245 356



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?

Speakers include:

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



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



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

negative effect.

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?

Speakers include:

Les Allamby, Human Rights Commission

Pádriag Ó Tuama, Corrymeela

Garret O Fachtna, Belfast Zen Centre

Rev Cheryl Meban, Ulster University

Michele Marken, OBE



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.

Speakers include:

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.


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.


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.

Speakers include:

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

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

Recovery Network.

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 Gavaghan

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

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.

Clare Hanna

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

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

Arts Partnership.

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

Daniel Jewsbury

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

Headless City’.


Orla McCann

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.

Mairaid McMahon

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

Northern Ireland.

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

Happen campaign.

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

chronological order!


Mike Nesbitt

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 O’Fachtna

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

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.


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


Rachel Cooley


Tel: 028 90 245 356


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