Trust brings sector together to look at Independence

Trust brings sector together to look at Independence

08 July 2013

The independence of the Community and Voluntary Sector was debated as the Building Change Trust launched the first in a series of opinion pieces on the sector in Northern Ireland.

Friday 5th July at the NICVA offices in Belfast saw Nick Acheson, from the University of Ulster’s Institute for Research in Social Sciences, present his paper on the independence of the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.

Nick’s essay considers what is currently happening to voluntary action in Northern Ireland, first discussing the concept of independence as it applies for voluntary and community organisations in contemporary democracies and why those seeking to defend it consider it a defining principle.

The essay also discusses the current challenges to the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland drawing on evidence from around the UK to illuminate the issues.

As well as Nick’s thoughts, delegates also heard from NICVA’s Seamus McAleavey, Bernadette McAliskey from STEP, John McMullan from the Bryson Charitable Group and the Rural Community Network’s Aidan Campbell, who gave their thoughts on Nick’s work and engaged in a lively discussion with the audience.

An electronic version of Nick’s essay can be downloaded from the Building Change Trust by clicking here, limited hard copies are available upon request.

A copy of Nick's presentation to the audience, can be downloaded by clicking here.

You can view a short video of Nick outlining the report, and a selection of the responses to it by clicking here

Participants at the event made a range of useful and practical suggestions setting out what should be done next. Including hosting events and conferences to carry on the debate and discussion, whilst also looking in detail at the challenges associated with procurement.

Nigel McKinney, Trust Administrator, said: “We were delighted to launch Nick’s paper looking into what we at the Trust see as an increasingly pertinent and important issue for the sector in Northern Ireland.

"There has been a big shift in how the sector is funded in recent years away from grants and towards contracting, which is likely to continue and with other changes may pose a threat to sector independence.

“The challenge is not only to consider the implications but more importantly set out what can be done to preserve and develop independence in this context.

“This event is part of the Building Change Trust’s work on Creating Space for Civic Thinking, continuing in October with the launch of a second opinion piece, from Andy Pollak and Brian Harvey from the Centre for Cross Border Studies, looking into the potential for learning on a cross border basis around the changes impacting on community and voluntary organisations and action.

“Creating Space for Civic Thinking is just one of the major strands of work being carried out over the coming years with Social Finance, Social Innovation, looking at how the Community and Voluntary Sector can develop better impact practice through work with the Inspiring Impact, Leadership and Collaboration making up the rest of the Trust’s portfolio of work”.