Tenants at Hemsworth Court celebrated the launch of Northern Irelands very first Social Sofa


Tenants at Hemsworth Court celebrated the launch of Northern Ireland’s very first Social Sofa. Trust Chairman Peter McNaney launched the event with the Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon officially unveiling the Social Sofa, marking the completion of a 10 month artistic journey.

The Social Sofa is a 1750 kgs concrete sofa on which tenants have been reproducing an elaborate design – using thousands of coloured mosaic tiles. The design came as a result of collaboration with a range of groups including schoolchildren from Glenwood Primary School and features iconic images of the Shankill Road – Nelson Memorial Presbyterian Church, the Shankill Library – as well as street scenes, boxing gloves, a depiction of the Titanic, and a message of love and hope.

Hemsworth Court is a supported housing scheme for people living with dementia and was developed in partnership between the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Helm Housing Association. It contains 35 modern high-quality flats with 24 hour support services to enable tenants to live independently.

The Social Sofa has been a collaborative project between the Spectrum Centre, Hemsworth Court, and artist Maria Duddy. Maria is trained in social sofa design and was delighted at being able to bring the techniques from the Netherlands to Northern Ireland in this unique venture.

The project has been supported through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Arts and Older People Programme, operational as a result of the funding from the Baring Foundation.

Staff at Hemsworth Court are delighted at the success of the Social Sofa project. Chairman Peter McNaney commented, “The Social Sofa has captured the imagination of those who have been working on the project – tenants, partner groups and volunteers. It has created a tremendous buzz as a wide range of people have visited to view the Sofa at various stages; but most importantly it has enabled tenants themselves to develop artistic skills, build confidence, interact with others, and experience a real pride and satisfaction in their work”.

Pictured below is the completed social sofa at Hemsworth court