Civic Activism Awards - The Cedar Foundation
In the first of our in-depth profiles of our new Civic Activism Awards Grantees we look at the Cedar Foundation's Insight Project, which they're working on with Age Sector Platform and The Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee.
The Cedar Foundation – a Belfast-based organization that advocates for people living with disabilities – will work to ensure that accessibility to transport for disabled and older people is taken into consideration in the development of transport policy and services.
The foundation has significant experience in civic activism and civic engagement, and is routinely consulted on statutory policy and strategies that affect the lives of the disabled.
Cedar established a Regional User Forum that operates six groups across Northern Ireland, and its members have been consulted in the development of policies emanating from the Office of First and Deputy First Minister, the Department for Regional Development and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
Research carried out by Cedar’s cross-border action research programme ConneXions has shown that accessible transport is a particular barrier to social inclusion for people with disabilities.
Cedar has worked to bring people with disabilities and Translink together to ensure accessibility.
The Insight Project will be carried out in collaboration with Age Sector Platform and The Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee, as people with disabilities and older people face multiple barriers to using public transport, which greatly impacts their independence and social inclusion.
Currently, they must book accessible transport a day in advance, preventing spontaneous or unplanned travel; they face limited accessible seating, and no seating available for carers or companions; there is a lack of disability awareness among transportation staff and an overall lack of confidence in using public transport.
In order to help overcome some of these barriers, Insight will use a variety of platforms from the Civic Activism Toolkit.
Direct engagement between providers and service users can be challenging, so the Insight Project will test four platforms over an 18 month period, with end user consultation and engagement a cross cutting theme and primary goal.
Citizen Report Cards and Mystery Shopping will be deployed to test the accessibility, quality and efficiency of our public transport systems; and Pop-Up Democracy and Forum Theatre will be tested as a means of collecting the target groups opinions, concerns and suggestions.
Specifically, the report cards will be used to survey the target groups assessment of transport, including the availability of services, access and usage, and quality and reliability. The report cards will be disseminated regionally and the results collated and analysed.
The mystery shopper tool will be deployed at a later stage, as part of monitoring and evaluation of trial changes. It will use trained volunteers who will use the services and assess the nature and quality of the experiences.
Forum theatre – interactive, participatory theatre which aims to tackle difficult social problems – will be performed in six regional events that will explore the findings of the citizen report cards.
Finally, the target groups will participate in pop-up democracy events across NI to collectively deliberate and debate the value of the trialled changes with service providers and commissioners.
These ‘big lunch’ events will help build cooperation between the target groups and public sector stakeholders and increase civic engagement.