Xchange Summer School 2015: bravery in the face of challenge #xss15 (updated with audio from Jo Berry, Patrick Magee, Ann Travers conversation)

looking down on kitchen setLiving through the challenge of austerity mean that the Third Sector in Northern Ireland will “have to show bravery, take decisive action, be willing to change, celebrate diversity and yes, think the unthinkable” according to the organisers of the Xchange Summer School.

The sofa set from the inaugural event in Enniskillen has been traded in and this year’s contributors are sitting around a kitchen table that has taken over the stage of the Great Hall in UU’s Magee campus.

xss15 Thu 2x2Introduced by Pauline Ross and chaired by Denzil McDaniel, the morning session heard about Irish Language Development in East Belfast from Linda Ervine.

Prof June Andrews sought to change the conversation about dementia (and included in her talk an explanation of why hospitalisation of people with dementia seems to accelerate their condition). June’s the author of Dementia: The One-Stop Guide: Practical advice for families, professionals, and people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. [£6.99 paperback, £3.77 Kindle]

Paul Kane followed up with a discussion of his musical work with older people – Over the Hill – that often includes people with dementia.

June Andrews dementia graph

After lunch Welsh international rugby union referee Nigel Owens spoke frankly about his own experience growing up gay, suicidal feelings, coming out, and shared how he deals with potentially homophobic remarks.

In the relaxed environment of Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Irish news columnist and Radio Foyle contributor Anita Robinson talked about five pieces of music that she valued and related memories of growing up and working in Derry.

Friday morning began with an economic panel discussing the impact of austerity across the third sector and beyond with Nora Smith, Conor Shields, Eoin Rooney and Paul MacFlynn.

Ann Travers Jo Berry Patrick MageeJo Berry and Patrick Magee spoke about their journey into conversation – private and public – over the last 15 years, and Ann Travers reflected on the morning her sister Mary was murdered and her father shot. Very raw reflections followed by Q&A with the delegates.

Greek economic academic Dr Marina Prentoulis concluded the formal sessions with her analysis on Greece’s response to austerity and lessons that the Syriza government are learning during this process. Her bottom line is that the rise level of suicide in Greece indicates the human cost of austerity.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.