Hard to Reach and Advice NI

Hard to Reach and Advice NI

09 September 2016

Over the next month or so we’ll be looking back at some of the great work done in our Civic Activism Programme. Next up it is: Hard to Reach and Advice NI. 

Advice NI will be using their Civic Activism Award to deliver their Reaching the Hard to Reach: Capturing the Impact of Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland project.

They'll be working in coalition with Gingerbread NIEast Belfast Independent Advice CentreNICVA and Omagh Independent Advice Services.

With their Civic Activism award from the Trust, Advice NI and its partners will examine those people most likely to be impacted by welfare reform in order to understand their experiences and hear their fears. This will give an otherwise vulnerable population a voice, but it will also bring transparency to this complex but crucial issue that will greatly impact many lives.

The project will focus in particular on people living in deprived areas who are reliant upon social security, families with children who may be subject to the benefit cap, people with disabilities, lone parents under 25 claiming Universal Credit, and people who may be subject to the bedroom tax – all of whom could face changes that will impact their benefits and financial situation.

Advice NI will use the information gathered to lobby and influence key decision-makers with responsibility for aspects of welfare reform, with the aim of mitigating the potential negative impacts for the most vulnerable members of the community.

In order to do so, Advice NI will deploy a series of tools from the Civic Activism Toolkit.

The Ushahidi Crowdmapping Platform software that literally puts people’s voices on a map, will enable Advice NI to gather geospatial data that will track the impact of Welfare Reform and identify hotspots across NI where people are being affected.

The Citizen Report Card tool -surveys that enables citizens to assess their experiences of public services – will be used via an online platform to enable individuals with experience of going through the process of welfare reform to record their experiences.

Digital Fact Checking will be incorporated on the Advice NI website, allowing the general public to submit and ask questions, access an archive of previous answers and flag up false or misleading information. Advice NI will have a panel of experts responding and submitting information onto the platform.

The Crowd Wise tool will be used in a number of small group discussions. Through the other elements of the project Advice NI will bring to the table a number of issues/policy statements which will then be discussed, votes taken and then prioritised and agreed. They will then make use of interactive real time voting tools during the group discussions to help facilitate the decision making process.

Incorporating Citizen Reporting, Advice NI will run a number of #campaigns (hashtag campaigns) on specific welfare reform impacts highlighted through other strands of the project.  These campaigns will enable real time discussion of issues, sharing of information and mapping of impact.

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