Trust Funds First Phase of New Initiative

Trust Funds First Phase of New Initiative

20 August 2014

The Trust has committed to funding the first phase of an exciting new initiative in Northern Ireland.

‘A Socially Sustainable Northern Ireland’ is an ambitious venture that will take place over the next 12-18 months.

Designed by world leading practitioners of social innovation, the Young Foundation, it will aim to create ten large scale innovations (products, services, processes or platforms) that will help tackle the structural and institutional causes of inequality in Northern Ireland.

The Young Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental think tank based in London that specializes in social innovation. They harness the power of social innovation to tackle the root causes of inequality.

This venture will have three geographic focus areas including Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Fermanagh.

The Trust’s total grant to this initiative could reach £180,000, with an initial commitment of £40,000  having been made to support the first phase of the initiative.

This will involve conducting ethnographic research in each of the three locations. This innovative research approach involves researchers immersing themselves in their study, spending time listening to and learning about the daily lives of individuals and communities.

This will provide them with important insights into the complex nature of particular social problems. 

The ethnography will enable the Young Foundation to identify both the problems around which innovation is needed, as well as the individuals and organisations who would like to be part of a movement that will create a new solution.

In parallel to this the Young Foundation have already been busy engaging with local communities, Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations and businesses through a series of workshops and ‘Dinners for Change’, and these are set to continue in the coming weeks.

Throughout the initiative the team from the Young Foundation will work in collaboration with communities, voluntary sector organisations and others, playing the role of facilitator, rather than implementer – harnessing the energy and experience of existing projects and organisations, but building greater synergy, developing unusual coalitions and identifying opportunities to work at a greater scale.

Once the specific innovations are designed and prototyped, the Young Foundation will then seek to secure substantial investment for the innovations that demonstrate the greatest potential to have widespread social impact, using their position as the UK’s number one social investment broker.

Paul Braithwaite, who heads up the Trust’s work in Social Innovation, said: “The Trust is delighted to be supporting this initiative as a great opportunity for the VCSE sector in Northern Ireland to get involved with others in a new movement to reduce social inequality”.