Trust at the Amplify NI Showcase
Amplify NI, a social innovation co-design process which aims to unearth and support new solutions to social inequality in Northern Ireland, culminated yesterday, 22nd June, with a showcase event at the Ulster Museum.
Over the past 9 months the Amplify NI team have engaged with hundreds of citizens to identify some of Northern Ireland’s key ‘narratives’ relating to the real, lived experience of social inequality, as well as communities’ energy, aspirations and capacity to drive social change.
The research took place in three specific areas of NI – Belfast, Derry-Londonderry and Fermanagh and the findings were exhibited at the showcase event.
Participants were invited to “roll up your sleeves and get creative,” by painting, drawing or writing their comments and contributions to the exhibition.
The full findings have also been published in an interactive format at http://www.amplifyni.org
As well as the research at community level, Amplify NI engaged with a wide range of stakeholders across the public, private and third sectors to identify both existing and new innovations that could help to address some of the key challenges identified in the research.
A total of 24 projects or ideas were identified at various stages of development, ranging from using the latest in digital technology to tackle fuel poverty to building social cohesion through a ‘human library’.
Each of these projects was then given intensive support through the Young Foundation’s acclaimed accelerator programme.
A key purpose of the showcase event was to give profile to each of these projects, highlight the inter-connecting themes and provide an opportunity for participants to join the ‘movement’, whether through volunteering their time, creating collaborative partnerships or offering investment.
This was done through an Innovation Marketplace where each of the projects had their own stall.
Some of the key themes were highlighted and debated in the Big Ideas Room where contributors included Ana Agirre from Mondragon Team Academy, part of the world’s largest worker-owned cooperative, John McMullan from the Bryson Charitable Group, Maeve Monaghan from The Now Project, John Peto from the Nerve Centre, Brendan Murtagh from Queen’s University Belfast as well as representatives of some of the projects exhibiting in the marketplace.
The event closed with a debate chaired by the Young Foundation’s Gorka Espiau asking the question “what’s next for social innovation in NI?” .
Panellists included Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive of Belfast City Council, Michael Donnelly of the Department for Social Development, Eamon Deane of Holywell Trust and Ibon Zugasti of the Mondragon Corporation.
All were agreed on the need to find new ways of tackling social need in Northern Ireland and on the fact that the current political and economic circumstances provide both a great challenge and a great opportunity.
At the local level, the new Community Planning processes being led by councils were highlighted as one key way of bringing together communities and other stakeholders around a shared vision for the future.
The involvement of youth and ‘passsing the baton’ to a new generation was another key theme.
Ultimately, as John McMullan highlighted in his presentation, the next few years in Northern Ireland could represent either a “perfect storm or a perfect opportunity” and whichever of these is the outcome depends greatly on our individual and collective willingness to find new ways of working together across society to tackle some of our most intractable social challenges.
Over the coming months Amplify NI will be taking stock and identifying the next crucial steps in supporting social innovation in Northern Ireland.
Amplify NI is funded by Building Change Trust and delivered by the Young Foundation.