2015 here at the Trust
With the summer entering its final days and autumn just around the corner, what better time for a recap of some of the most important developments so far in 2015?
In March we welcomed the news that four community-owned projects funded in 2013 with £235,000 from BCT, were open for business.
It’s been a busy few months on the green energy front, with several positive developments in solar energy.
In April, the YMCA in Londonderry joined forces with Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE), which will install solar panels that the YMCA anticipates will allow it to save approximately 60 percent in electricity costs.
NICE offers the installation service for free to a number of third sector organisations, who can benefit from the reduced electricity prices for 20 years.
Other groups availing themselves of the service include the Creggan Enterprises RathMor Centre.
NICE also launched a community share offer on March 3, with the aim of raising £150,000. By June it had surpassed that target, an indication of the appeal of green, low-cost energy to third sector groups.
In May Building Change Trust, working with Culture Tech, put out a call for Techies in Residence, a programme that aims to increase connections between the digital and tech communities and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE).
Six VCSE groups will work with the tech sector partners in developing a relevant digital social innovation project. Over 40 applications were received from across Northern Ireland and involved in a multitude of issues.
The successful six groups will take part in the 15-month programme, enabling them to harness expertise from NI’s leading tech firms. Included in the programme is a 10 week placement and a variety of mentoring, networking and industry events.
The programme will kick off with a 2 day ‘bootcamp’ at the CultureTech festival next month in September.
Another highlight of the year so far was the June Amplify NI event held in Belfast. The afternoon conference featured speakers from a variety of third sector organisations, academia and government, on a wide variety of topics from food sustainability to fuel poverty.
Gorka Espiau, the Young Foundation’s director of innovation, spoke about the challenges of movement building to affect social transformation. That can be done with ‘hardware’ – tangible and interconnected projects that will tackle the priorities identified through Amplify NI – as well as ‘software’: developing new, transformational narratives based on common values and aspirations.
As part of the event, 24 teams of social innovators set up stalls as part of an “innovation marketplace” in which attendees could stop by and offer their help to the particular cause.
And finally, the Open Government Partnership continues to gather steam, with several key appointments to the steering committee made in May.
Colm Burns, policy advisor for Pharmacy Forum NI, was appointed chairperson to Open Government Network, and Eleanor Brown, a retired medical practioner, was appointed vice-chairperson.
In addition, Building Change Trust appointed the NI Environment Link to the role of secretariat for the network. The goal of the network is to advance the open government cause in Northern Ireland, which is lagging behind other parts of the United Kingdom.