Join our fabulous annual MEGASWAP

Save the date!

Belfast Friendship Club’s fabulous MEGASWAP is back

Dolls of different nationaliities and globe

When? Saturday 25 November, 5pm to 9pm

Where? Chinese Community Centre, Ormeau Embankment, Belfast

Come along, bring three things you don’t want anymore but that you know others will love, take away three things in exchange, for yourself, or as gifts for loved ones… have a bit of a laugh, a bit of food, meet lovely people… what better way to spend a Saturday evening?

What can I bring?

Adult and children’s clothes, shoes, hats, costume jewelry and other accessories, books, CDs, toys and games, knick-knacks etc… anything of manageable size that is in good condition and that you know others would love.

If you have more things to donate or you want to help on the day, contact Stephanie at Belfast Friendship Club, or check out for contact details

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, Events, International meeting place

Globe Café: a friendship club in East Belfast

Globe Cafe in full swingSeptember is with us, so it’s now time to tell you about another one in our series of meeting spaces inspired by Belfast Friendship Club.

Globe Café took a well earned rest in the summer and is now back on. Here is what they said to us:

Globe Café


Globe Café was started four years ago, and now meets in Eastside Visitor Centre in CS Lewis Square every Tuesday from 7:30pm to 10pm.  

It is a weekly social gathering in East Belfast, where people from all over the world (including here in Northern Ireland) come and enjoy tea/coffee/soft drinks and the chance to practise their English, meet new people/catch up with friends.  

We often have live music, and Open Mic events where people can bring their guitar/keyboard etc. and share some music.  

We thought the BFC model was fantastic, and felt that there was a need for something similar in East Belfast- so that’s what we have created!

There are 30-40 people there every week.   We run until the end of June, then have a break and start again in September.  Its great craic!

Eastside Centre where Globe Cafe meets

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, diversity, Inclusion, integration and participation, International meeting place, New to Belfast? Make new friends.

A friendship club with a tartan slant

Blether Friendship Club

We continue our series about initiatives inspired by Belfast Friendship Club. Today, we bring you to Glasgow’s Blether Friendship Club, which started earlier this year.

Here’s what they said:

“We have visited the Belfast Friendship Club and are very grateful for their support of Blether, and for the seven years’ experience they have of running such a club which they are sharing with us as we start something similar – with a tartan slant.”

Blether Friendship Club provides a safe space for people of different backgrounds and nationalities to:

  • meet in a diverse, supportive and relaxed environment
  • make new friends and help each other
  • find out about (free) events going on in the city

The meetings are held on Mondays from 6pm to 8pm at The Project Café, 2-1a Fleming House, 134 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6ST.

Tea and coffee are available for a donation.

For more information, email or phone Ronnie on 07340866978, or follow them on Facebook: Blether Friendship Club

By all accounts, Blether Friendship Club is thriving. We wish them all the very best and look forward to hearing more from them.

Posted in diversity, Inclusion, integration and participation, International meeting place

North Belfast Friendship Club

Belfast Friendship Club has inspired similar groups, around Belfast but also in Scotland and further afield. Today, we begin a series of posts on these initiatives, starting with North Belfast Friendship Club:

Members of North Belfast Friendship Club

North Belfast Friendship Club

The North Belfast Friendship Club started its meet-ups on 2 August 2016.

Taking inspiration from Belfast Friendship Club – and after some good chats with Stephanie – we decided to open in North Belfast because it’s an area of town where isolation is particularly problematic and where an initiative like that was missing.

North Belfast Friendship Club is open to people of all backgrounds and interests, and we have managed to attract some folks who are not originally from NI, as well as families and members of the local communities.

We encourage our members to share ideas for activities they could be interested in. So far, we seem to be very keen on board games and sharing homemade cakes!

We meet every Tuesday from 6 to 8pm at R-City Coffee, in 432 Crumlin Road BT14 7TF.

There are two entrances, one on Woodvale Road, and one on Crumlin Road.

The café can be reached  by bus from the city centre: 11a to Ballysillan, stop Woodvale Road; 57 to Legoniel, stop Kerrera Street; 11b to Springmartin, stop Woodvale Park.

North Belfast Friendship Club leaflet

Best wishes to our North Belfast Friends

Best wishes to this great bunch of people, from all of us at Belfast Friendship Club.

If you are in North Belfast on a Tuesday evening, why not pay them a visit?

You can also join their Facebook page to find out more:

Next stop: Glasgow!

Our next post will bring you to Scotland. Don’t miss it: you can receive notification of our posts by signing up for updates on our homepage (it’s in the menu on the right-hand side: scroll down to ‘Sign up for updates’).

Posted in diversity, Inclusion, integration and participation, International meeting place, New to Belfast? Make new friends., refugees

‘Small Worlds’ supports new School of Sanctuary

Small Worlds hosts with pupils from Northern Ireland's first School of Sanctuary Blythefield Primary School and their teacher

Blythefield Primary School has become Northern Ireland’s first School of Sanctuary.

To support this initiative, the school attended a Small Worlds workshop  with Belfast Friendship Club on 21 June.

The workshop helped staff and pupils understand what it means to be a refugee or asylum seeker.

Small Worlds hosts were delighted to meet such lovely students and impressed with their positive attitude to difference.

The school held a launch on 27 June to celebrate its new status.

What’s a School of Sanctuary?

A School of Sanctuary works to create a safe and welcoming place for all, especially those seeking refuge and safety.  For example, this could be people:

  • whose lives were in danger in their own country,
  • or who have troubles at home,
  • or who are just looking for a space of safety.

As part of their journey, Blythefield has:

  • connected with other schools from around the world,
  • celebrated Chinese New Year,
  • created a Friendship Club,
  • hosted international student teachers,
  • held a series of Small World workshops,
  • learned African drumming, and
  • created a sanctuary garden.

Read more about how Blythefield Primary School did it.

Congratulations, Blythefield, on showing the way!

Posted in diversity, Inclusion, integration and participation, refugees, Small Worlds workshops

Your donations to BFC count double on 22 June

Belfast Friendship Club Member volunteering at Big Lunch 2017 - Photo Darren Vaughan

BFC member helping make Big Lunch 2017 a resounding success

Want to help us? Hold off giving us money until this Thursday 22 June!

If you have ever considered making a donation to help Belfast Friendship Club but haven’t got round to it yet, hold off until Thursday 22 June!  😀


We are registered with LocalGiving, and on Thursday 22 June 2017, as part of Small Charity Week, any donations up to £25 made through this link will be matched:

So if you give us £25, then we will receive another £25, and your donation will be worth £54 alogether if you are a GiftAid donor.

Of course, donations are always welcome.

What your gift could provide

  • £10 provides transport / lunch for a day’s voluntary work outside Belfast
  • £30 pays for a night’s accommodation on the BFC holiday for one member
  • £100 helps sustain the background work needed to keep the club running
See below some of our lovely Belfast Friendship Club members who volunteered their services to help make the Belfast Holyland Big Lunch 2017 a resounding success (all photos by Darren Vaughan):


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, Big Lunch, diversity, Events, Fundraising, Inclusion, International meeting place, New to Belfast? Make new friends., Volunteering

All set for this Sunday’s Big Lunch

Paul modelling our Big Lunch volunteer apron

Welcome to the Holylands’ Big Lunch

Are you coming to the Big Lunch this Sunday?

Belfast Friendship Club, Wildflower Alley, City Church and Northern Ireland Muslim Family Association are ready to welcome you.

There will be dragon dances, music, food and more.

It’s a free event. See you there!

The photo shows Paul, one of our lovely volunteers, in the servers’ apron specially designed for us 🙂

What’s on

12pm – Opening at City Church, 12-24 University Avenue

1pm – Food, music and children’s activities

3pm – Dragon Parade to Wildflower Alley and Muslim Family Association, Rugby Road

What the media said

Read more:

Holyland residents get together to share food and remember Jo Cox

More information  (You don’t need a ticket: you can just turn up.)

Be there by 1pm if you want to eat. It’s first come first serve! And bring salad, nibbles or soft drinks to share if you can.

This is part of the UK-wide Great get Together. The aim is:

  • to remember Jo Cox MP,
  • to bring together our diverse communities,
  • and to celebrate what we have in common.

“…we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”, Jo Cox MP Maiden speech to Parliament

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, Big Lunch, diversity, Events, Global Kitchen, Inclusion, integration and participation, Urban City Chef, Volunteering

Holyland Big Lunch and Great Get Together: you are invited!

Big lunch 2015: some of the guests

When: 18 June, from 12pm

Where: Holyland Area, starting at City Church, moving on to Wildflower Alley and Muslim Family Association

You are invited to our Big Lunch in the Holyland and University area of South Belfast. Join us in celebrating what unites us and celebrate the diversity of our area as well. We will be serving international food platters, please be seated by 1pm to ensure you are served. Please bring along a salad/dessert & a bottle of fizz/juice to share with your table. Come prepared to have fun, meet some new neighbours and enjoy the day.

A joint event by: Belfast City Church, College Park Avenue Residents Association and Belfast Friendship Club


12pm – Opening at City Church , 12-24 University Avenue

1pm – Food , music and children’s activities @ City Church

3pm – Dragon Parade to Wildflower Alley and Muslim Family Association, Rugby Road

Our celebration is part of the UK wide Great get Together, and the Big lunch.

The aim is to celebrate the legacy of Jo Cox MP and to bring together our diverse communities and celebrate what we have in common.

“…we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”

Jo Cox MP, Maiden speech to Parliament

You don’t have to book your place, but if you would like to register your interest, follow this link:

Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, diversity, Events, Inclusion, integration and participation, International meeting place, New to Belfast? Make new friends., Volunteering

Sponsor our marathon runners

Belfast Friendship Club marathon runners 2017 in practice run

Some of our Belfast Friendship Club members are running the relay race in the Belfast Marathon to raise much needed funds for the group.

If you would like to sponsor them, you can donate on this webpage:

There are two teams this year: come and cheer them on, they will be wearing white t-shirts with the Belfast Friendship Club name and logo on them.

The Marathon is this Monday. Find out more about times and routes:

Posted in Uncategorized

Modelling an inclusive community – an evaluation of Belfast Friendship Club

Belfast Friendship Club - modelling an inclusive community: front cover

Building inclusive communities

Last year, Jonathan Barnes of Migrant Help UK visited Belfast Friendship Club on several occasions to find out more about how the group works.

He wrote a report based on the experiences of club members and others to make recommendations for those interested in forming similar clubs elsewhere to help build inclusive communities.

How Belfast Friendship Club works

Here is some of what he had to say.

“Belfast Friendship Club (BFC) is an informal social group that has been meeting in a South Belfast Café almost every Thursday evening since 2009. Its aims are simple. It is a club for those seeking and offering friendship. BFC members comprise local Belfastians and an ever-changing mix of newcomers to the city who meet to chat.”

“users unanimously agreed that the BFC was a safe place, welcoming, egalitarian, supportive, and important in their lives.”

“The particular strengths of the BFC are its:
– Welcome;
– Clear and lived values;
– Focus on friendship;
– Diverse membership (including significant numbers of ‘locals’);
– Simple and effective organisational structures;
– Successful methods of communication;
– Emphasis on the well-being of members and community;
– Success at integration;
– Reliability; and
– Efficiency in sharing and delivering relevant information.”

What members said

Here are some of the comments from the people he interviewed.

“It’s fabulous. It’s just really diverse. Lots of different nationalities… it is a platform for myth-busting.” (Gee, Sri Lanka)

“…it was the warmth and the welcome and the love that we got here was amazing ….they are so loving and caring they are willing to listen to what you are going through.” (Everson, Zimbabwe)

“…there’s no hidden agenda, neutral ground, removed from the clinical idea of helping people, it’s not a service, not a committee.” (Jenny, Belfast)

“If I needed help, this is the place I’d go.” (Encarta, Spain)

“Nobody is ever made to feel like an outsider.” (Vicky, Latvia

“… [in BFC] you can tuck your problems away..” (Beauty, Zimbabwe)

“It’s really friendly, no one judges, … you can just be yourself, you can have a chat and it’s a good place to relax and sort of chill..” (Pablo, NI)

“…it’s the constant that it’s here all the time. Every Thursday you come and the door is open and it’s always here… You can rely on it.” (Lorenzo, Italy)

Recommendations for other groups

Jonathan made recommendations for similar groups to be created elsewhere, including:

“Migrant Help UK  (should seek) to replicate this club in the UK dispersal areas for refugees.

“the evaluation suggested the following:
– The booklet Be the Change be used as a guide;
– Leaders of future clubs visit the BFC;
– Club leaders prioritise the identification of safe, accessible, neutral premises;
– Club values are constantly and consistently monitored and upheld;
– Each club has a dedicated supporting committee;

– Schools consider setting up their own Friendship Clubs on similar lines to the
BFC in order to support the integration of migrant and refugee young people.”

Read the full report here

Belfast Friendship Club – modelling an inclusive community by Jonathan Barnes, Migrant Help UK


Posted in Belfast Friendship Club, diversity, Inclusion, integration and participation, International meeting place, New to Belfast? Make new friends., refugees