Trust urges voluntary and community groups to work together for change
Work together for change, that’s the message the voluntary and community sector heard at the Collaboration for Social Change Conference held on Tuesday, 2 October.
The conference, co-hosted by The Building Change Trust and CollaborationNI, at the Stormont Hotel explored how Northern Ireland’s voluntary and community sector can better help communities across the country by working in partnership.
It also looked at how best the sector can continue to build stronger and more resilient charitable organisations that impact positively for individuals, for communities and wider society in Northern Ireland.
Dr Tim London from The Queen’s University Belfast will gave a keynote address on the need for collaboration in a changing sector.
Dr London believes the potential benefits of collaboration are tremendous, but warns: “Getting people to work together in new ways can be quite difficult.”
Adding: “Ensuring the benefits are attained requires establishing key priorities, helping people learn how to work in collaborative ways and ensuring robust connections between policy, funders and practitioners.”
Attendees had the chance to hear first-hand accounts about ongoing collaborative work carried out by local organisations including Opportunity Youth and ASCERT.
In attendance was Alex Maskey MLA, Chair of the Committee for Social Development, who delivered a keynote speech.
Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland MLA joined a panel and audience discussion with Lauri McCusker from the Fermanagh Trust, Dr Tim London and Roisin Foster from Cancer Focus NI.
Chaired by broadcaster William Crawley, this broadened the discussion around collaboration and considered the significance of joint working in building a more efficient and effective sector to promote sustainable charitable organisations, as well as, meeting the key service needs of the community at large.
Bill Osborne, Chair of the Building Change Trust said: “The voluntary and community sector is leading the agenda for organisational and social change in Northern Ireland.
“Many organisations are working together, collaboratively and strategically, while others are merging or becoming more efficient in the delivery of essential services to the wider community.
“But there is more to do as we seek to affirm the place of the voluntary and community sector in building a better civil society.”
Adding: “This conference looked at what we mean by social change and the importance of collaboration within the sector in this economically challenging time and how we can ensure our work is sustainable.
“We know the sector wants to work in this way – we were overwhelmed by the number of groups who attended conference – and they were keen to hear more about the Government’s perspective on social change and consider what future work needs to be carried out to underpin the continued development of the sector and to connect that to the Executives social development priorities.”