Build Your Ideas Together
Stevie Johnson will be facilitating the Trust's series of Ideas Generation Workshops.

Build Your Ideas Together

12 June 2014

Ahead of the launch of our Civic Activism Fund, the Trust will be running a series of Idea Generation Workshops designed to encourage innovation and creativity within the local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector.

Stevie Johnston, Senior Associate, Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC), will be facilitating the events, alongside Helen McLaughlin. Here, he tells us more about what to expect.

How did you come to work in this field?

Prior to joining IISC, I was the Director of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) in Northern Ireland, an adult education body whose mission is simply to ‘make learning irresistible.’ While on a research visit to Boston in 1995 to look for new leadership models, I discovered IISC.

A partnership quickly followed and since then thousands of participants in Ireland have had the opportunity to benefit from IISC’s workshops.

I hold a BSc in Social Administration, an MSc in Social Administration, Policy and Planning and an MBA from the University of Ulster, where I specialised in strategic development for not for profit organisations.

When are the Idea Generation Workshops taking place?

There will be four events in total:

Belfast on 20th June at Clifton House

Derry-Londonderry on 23 June at The Junction in conjunction with The Junction and Garden of Reflection

Castlewellan on 24th June at Hillyard House

Enniskillen on the 26th June with the Fermanagh Trust as part of the Xchange Summer School.

Who will be involved in the events? 

Members of the voluntary and community sector who have an interest in how citizens can have a greater say in the policies and operations of government.

The workshops will be aiming to generate new and forward thinking ideas for civic activism projects in Northern Ireland.

Will good ideas generated at the events be supported into action?

At the end of the series the Trust will put out a tendering process to find out how organisations would like to develop and deliver these ideas.

Who can attend? 

Anyone can come along, but in the main we would expect it will be people from the VCSE sector.

What benefits do you think these events will have for the VCSE sector? 

It will be great to hear new ideas on how to influence government policies and decisions.

Why is now a good time for events of this nature? 

There is a growing disconnect between the citizen and those in power.

The onset of community planning may offer an opportunity for people to be able to influence policy in new ways and these workshops are timely as we can develop new approaches which may lead to citizens having a greater say in decisions which directly affect them.

Do you think the sector struggles with idea generation?

There is lots of good work happening in the sector and new ideas are being created. Unfortunately the funding structures mean that the sector is constantly ‘piloting’ ideas but often there is a problem in sustaining these new approaches in the longer term.

What techniques will attendees learn at the event?

Mainly the ideas are going to be generated by the attendees themselves so it’s hard to say. The findings are being recorded and the best 20 will be produced in a booklet as a resource for those who wish to try and influence government and its agencies.

What is your best tip for successful idea generation? 

Be collaborative. The best ideas are rarely generated by one person. Listen to the ideas of others and together build your ideas.

For more information on the Ideas Generation Workshops, or to register, please click here. 

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