Trust to launch Civic Activism Programme

Trust to launch Civic Activism Programme

19 December 2014

The Building Change Trust will launch its exciting and innovative Civic Activism Programme on 21st January 2015 at the Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts in Belfast.

This programme aims to give Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations the opportunity to experiment with innovative approaches to engaging people in decision-making processes that impact on their lives.

To enable this, the Trust has compiled a Civic Activism Toolkit which features a directory of 29 innovative tools for civic activism work, drawn from around the world. In addition, the toolkit provides a series of civic activism tips and case studies from local practitioners.

Paul Braithwaite, Development and Implementation Officer, Building Change Trust, said: “We commissioned this Civic Activism Toolkit in response to interest from local practitioners in experimenting with some of the many innovative approaches that are used around the world to involve people in decision-making processes.”

“We’ve picked 29 tools from the many hundreds out there that we think would be worth trying in Northern Ireland. Now through our Civic Activism Programme we’re offering the opportunity to any VCSE organisations to bid to try one or more of them out in their work. An added bonus is that no previous knowledge of any of the tools is required.”

The purpose of the Civic Activism Programme is to enable interested VCSE organisations to try out one or more of the 29 tools from the directory in the Civic Activism Toolkit. Any VCSE organisation will be eligible to apply, whether working to influence decisions at local or regional level.

Mr Braithwaite continued: “Fundamentally, this Toolkit and Programme are about nourishing democracy in Northern Ireland from the grassroots up. There’s a strong sense from many VCSE organisations as well as the people and communities they work with that mainstream politics isn’t working. Simply ticking a box on a ballot paper every few years doesn’t give people nearly enough say over the very many major decisions that government takes that affect their lives.

“At the same time, the official ways that government does seek to engage with citizens lack creativity, are often drowned in jargon and consequently tend to attract ‘expert’ views onlys. Through this Toolkit and Programme the Trust wants to help reinvigorate democratic engagement, with the VCSE sector as a key intermediary.”

Consequently, the Trust hopes to make around 15 grants in spring 2015 with the application window opening at the launch event on 21st January. The grants will be accompanied by structured learning support, including the opportunity to develop a learning partnership with an organisation outside NI that has experience of using the tool(s) in question.

Tim Hughes from Involve, a London-based NGO specialising in public participation who the Trust commissioned to compile the tools directory in the Civic Activism Toolkit, will address the launch along with a range of other interesting speakers to be confirmed.

Participants will have an opportunity to explore the Civic Activism Toolkit in detail and to get more information about the Civic Activism Programme, including the application process.

In addition to the main launch in Belfast, the Trust will be organising a series of information workshops in locations around Northern Ireland in late January and early February 2015.

Please click here to register for the event.

For more information contact Paul Braithwaite on pbraithwaite@communityfoundationni.org

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