North West Civic Leadership Project

North West Civic Leadership Project

15 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: the North West Civic Leadership Project. 

The Holywell Trust was founded in 1988 by a group of community workers in Derry/Londonderry to stimulate creativity in community development and peace building.

Today, it functions in many different contexts but all to facilitate understanding and healing.

Since its inception, Holywell has initiated 39 projects, partnered with over 20 organisations and provided support to over 77 local community groups on a wide range of issues.

They have influenced policy in a range of ways, including a recent partnership with The Junction and the Peace & Reconciliation Group to provide input to the OFMDFM strategy Together: Building a Unity Community.

Holywell also piloted a series of six discussions for the Conversation Space Project, in which sessions on a variety of topics were held and a website created.

The North West Civic Leadership project will focus on four key issues crucial to the future of the city of Derry-Londonderry: innovation and investment; a shared and thriving city centre; youth aspirations and employment; and breaking the cycle of debt and poverty.

The project will target key groups, from community activists and young people to the business sector, elected officials and landowners.

In order to best tackle these issues, the project leaders have selected citizen reporting, study groups, pop-up democracy and the citizen jury tools.

The citizen reporting tool will allow the group to collect opinions and record processes.

A website will be developed that will be the central point of communication for the project, including video and audio featuring local community representatives, social media feeds and articles.

Content will be provided by local groups and key organisations, thus informing a wide audience of the ongoing work.

The study groups will create champions for change by empowering local people to enhance their expertise on these issues, in addition to their individual lived experience.

Up to 20 key stakeholders will be involved in the group and will use the process established in the toolkit to inform other relevant activities.

The pop-up democracy platform will be used to create visible engagement with the wider community, using a city centre space to set up a temporary ‘honesty café’.

Local people will be encouraged to come in for a cuppa and a chat, and techniques such as a ‘talking couch’, a pinnable wall map of the city and the ‘museum of now’ will be used to help stimulate conversation and record insights.

The citizen jury tool will give local people control over issues that effect them and therefore create positive change on a grassroots level and will function as a final set piece addressing the four key issues.

The information gathered using the first three tools will be presented and considered, and the juries – made up of people selected at random from the electoral register – will arrive at solutions and/or recommendations on each of the four issues.

With these tools at its disposal, the group aims to influence positive outcomes for crucial issues of innovation, city centre development, youth unemployment and debt and poverty.

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