The Northern Ireland community and voluntary sector has for decades been a key interlocutor between citizens and the state, representing the interests of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of the community. This was especially the case during the long years of the Troubles when there were no local political institutions.
However since the Good Friday Agreement and the dawning of the era of devolved government, the sector has perhaps struggled to realign its role in light of the new governance arrangements.
To help the sector grapple with this challenge, the Trust has made a number of key interventions.
Our Civic Activism NI programme has seen 8 groups funded to try out innovative civic activism tools from across the world to see if they can work here in Northern Ireland. The toolkit is available for everyone to access on the Civic Activism website.
We helped convene and fund the Northern Ireland Open Government Network, which is starting to make real progress into making the political institutions in Northern Ireland more accountable and transparent.
In conjunction with Ulster University, we are researching the independence of the Northern Ireland Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector, a particularly important question as the sector becomes ever more reliant upon government funding and contracts.