BFC is 8: let’s party!

BFC logoBFC 8th birthday party


Friday 24th March, 6-9pm for members, families, friends and supporters. At City Church, above Common Grounds. All welcome!

Music, dancing, food and more starting off with a fun percussion / drumming workshop at 6pm

With a ‘Friend of the Friendship Club’ award to one of BFC’s best supporters!


Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, Events

What’s a ‘Small Worlds’ workshop?

Find out more about our ‘Small Worlds’ Workshops.

Participants around a table at a Small Worlds workshop

To book a workshop, contact Stephanie Mitchell:

07548 938508

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, diversity, Events, Inclusion, integration and participation, refugees, Small Worlds workshops

BFC receives Transgender Champion award

Transgender Champion 2016

Our coordinator, Stephanie Mitchell, was delighted to accept a ‘Transgender Champion’ award from Focus: The Identity Trust, on behalf of Belfast Friendship Club.

Stephanie Mitchell accepts Focus Transgender Champion award 2016 from Junior Minister Megan Fearon MLA

Junior Minister Megan Fearon MLA presented the awards on 28 November at Stormont.

This event also  launched the newly created Gender Identity Panel.

Transgender Champion Award 2016

(Photos: LHS © Whitehall Studios)

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, diversity, Inclusion

Refugee week WelcomeFest on TV

Our Refugee Week WelcomeFest event at St Anne’s Cathedral was on TV!

Watch it here:

This was a joint event by:

  • Belfast Friendship Club,
  • British Red Cross Northern Ireland, and
  • Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS).

We were delighted with the great audience and wonderful entertainment.

A big thank you to the artists, who all performed for free.

Enjoy watching this lovely film about it.

Posted in diversity, Events, Inclusion, integration and participation, refugees Tagged with: , , ,

Congrats Global Kitchen graduates

Global Kitchen graduates, course organiser and trainer with Finance Minister

Finance Minister presents Global Kitchen certificates

On 4 August, Finance Minister Máirtín O’Muilleoir MLA presented certificates to a group of asylum seekers and refugees who successfully completed the Global Kitchen course.

He congratulated them and praised their tenacity and talent:

“Refugees and asylum seekers are a boon to our society, adding to the diversity of our great city and allowing us to show the compassion and kindness which is the cornerstone of our community.

The refugees and asylum seekers recognised tonight have overcome adversity, exile and persecution to emerge as ambassadors of goodwill and of hospitality for their adopted community.

I wish them well in their journey and reiterate my belief that the current London government policies and treatment of asylum seekers is punitive and senseless.

I look forward to the day when these talented and generous guests – these latter-day Good Samaritans – of our society can make a full contribution to our community.”

The Global Kitchen catering course

Global Kitchen trainees receive supportive but rigorous training in international cookery and food hygiene in a café setting. They work towards an Open College qualification.

They test their skills in celebratory events where they serve food to local residents and members of Black and Ethnic Minorities.

The course includes a Food Hygiene Certification. This was taken up by 7 more participants through Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group, the Welcome Organisation and Horn of Africa People’s Aid.

The trainees

Asylum seekers can wait several years to be recognized as refugees. Meanwhile, they are not allowed to work, training opportunities are scarce and they live on a minimal income.

Destitute asylum seekers are people who have been refused refugee status but cannot leave the country, for example because it may be too dangerous back home. They do not receive any State support, are not allowed to work, and depend entirely on charity.

The course offers them a rare opportunity to gain skills and a qualification and improve their quality of life.

In the words of one participant: “it’s not like a training, it’s like a family.”

Organizer Stephanie Mitchell praised their achievement:

“Most of the trainees achieved the full OCN certificate, an outstanding feat given the personal circumstances of some of them, and the stress, anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies the asylum application process.

They proved hungry to learn, highly motivated and very appreciative of the opportunity.

Most have continued to work or volunteer in food-based enterprises.”

Future projects: WelcomeFeast

This project is a spin-off of Belfast Friendship Club. It was made possible thanks to a Big Lottery grant and training by Urban Community Chef Mark Humphries.

It is due to run again in the Autumn. It will include a feast catered by Global Kitchen trainees to raise awareness of:

  • food poverty
  • how to contribute to foodbanks through donations and/or volunteering
  • making tasty nutritious food on a tight budget
  • zero waste. 

It will be a joint project with British Red Cross NI.

More details will be announced in September.

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, Events, Inclusion, integration and participation, refugees, Uncategorized, Volunteering Tagged with: , ,

Refugee Week WelcomeFest concert – a family friendly event

Come along to our WELCOMEFEST concert!Refugee Week logo

At St Anne’s Cathedral, Thursday 23rd June 7-10pm.

Celebrate Refugee Week at our family-friendly joint event with Red Cross & NICRAS.

Musicians, dancers, clowns, face-painting & fun activities for children so bring your family & friends!

Free event – All welcome.

Minibus transfer from Common Grounds Cafe to St Anne’s

Welcome globe and multi-coloured hands

WelcomeFest: an evening bursting with culture and diversity in the Year of Welcome

What’s on?
Donna Namukasa
Indian Dance
Heidi Heidelberg and Mauricio Velezsierra
Fiona O’Kane and Frances Mitchell
Julius Mitchell
plus special guests

Organised by British Red Cross, Belfast Friendship Club and Northern Ireland Comunity of Refuges and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS) in partnership with Wheelworks, Beyond Skin, Love Music, Hate Racism, SOS.

Find out more about Refugee Week:

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, diversity, Events

Come along to the BIG LUNCH!


Come and join us for the Big Lunch, Sunday 7 June, 12.30pm, on the street outside City Church, 12-24 University Avenue, Belfast.

There will be live music, international dishes, crafts for the kids and outdoor dining.

It’s free but bring some salads, sides, desserts or soft drinks to share.

Belfast Friendship Club members, friends and supporters are ALL welcome.

Any musicians who may be able to perform a couple of songs or an instrumentals, please get in touch with Stephanie: 0r ring 07548 938 508. Thanks

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, Events, integration and participation, International meeting place

Double your donation to BFC until 28 May with LocalGiving

We have started a new fundraising drive:

to help Belfast Friendship Club’s background work for its weekly meetings and activities

to help pay for transport and accommodation to volunteering opportunities and events outside Belfast.

Until tomorrow, LocalGiving will match any donation up to £50. You can also GiftAid your donation which adds another 25%. So a £10 donation can actually be worth £22.50 until 28 May.

More information and to donate now:


Posted in Belfast Friendship Club Tagged with:

Be the Change: a guide to creating safe and inclusive space

Be the change: a guide to creating safe and inclusive space by Dr. Stephanie Mitchell

Be the change: a guide to creating safe and inclusive space - We need to be the change we wish to see in the world
Be the Change, a guide to creating safe and inclusive space, was launched on Thursday 4 December 2014 in Common Grounds Cafe, Belfast.
This booklet outlines the principles behind the successful growth of Belfast Friendship Club since 2009. It is intended for those of us whose work concerns diversity (i.e. anyone ‘different’).
It is a very practical guide to help us reflect on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of creating safe and inclusive space.
It is relevant to any individual or group from community, voluntary, faith-based or statutory organisations wishing to increase the diversity of their settings.
It is available, free of charge,  from Belfast Friendship Club and South Belfast Roundtable.
However, if you would like us to post a copy to you, we will charge post and package.
For more information contact Stephanie Mitchell:
Posted in diversity, Inclusion, integration and participation

What helps integration? A survey

Gareth Mulvey, research fellow at the University of Glasgow, is conducting research on the integration of migrants in different parts of the UK.
If you would like to participate, follow this link:
Gareth says: “The aim of the research is to find out more about the lives of migrants in the UK and to see whether Governments’ current policies help migrants to integrate. We hope to find out what is good and works well for migrant communities in the UK and what does not work so well in the hope that any evidence we produce can be used to improve things in the future.”
If you would like to find out more about the research, contact Gareth on: 0141 330 4065 or email
Posted in integration and participation