Frustrated by the slow process of community integration, The Community Relations Fund has launched an innovative programme to encourage more cross-community dating. They have allocated £250,000 to a new dating fund with the catchy name – ‘Ride The Other Side’.
The way the fund works is they are giving cash payments to encourage cross-community relationships. There are three levels to the fund:
- You get a £50 payment for a first date
- £500 for an engagement
- And £1000 for a wedding
As the cost of living soars the fund is confident that the money will incentivise people to consider broadening their dating horizons.
The idea is the brainchild of Lira Lopof, originally from Poland, the Director of Strategy for the Community Relations Fund.
I spoke to her about how the scheme will work in practice. For a first date, you need to take a selfie of yourself and your date and put it on social media with the hashtag #RideTheOtherSide. You then get an automated message with a link to the claim form for getting your £50.
Where it gets interesting is the new technology they are employing to reduce any potential fraud and people pretending they are in a mixed relationship. Lira explained:
We have partnered with computer scientists from Queen’s University Belfast to develop a sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithm that uses a series of questions to detect the true religious background of people. For example, if you had a Julie from Ballyhackamore who could make traybakes and keeps her toaster in a cupboard we would be 100% certain that they were from a Protestant background.
Likewise, if you had a Kevin from Ardoyne who knew how many players were on a GAA team, had been to Bundoran and was off Crunchies for Lent then we would be 100% certain that they were from a Catholic background.
The scheme will open next month and already there’s been an encouraging response from young people. If all goes well Lira hopes the first weddings will take place next year. I wish them well with the scheme.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.